Limited support for default 20mph zones from mayoral candidates

A mobile speed sign in Morton-on-Swale. Picture: Richard Doughty Photography

Only one of the six candidates contesting to become York and North Yorkshire’s first elected mayor has directly pledged to support introducing default 20mph zones in residential areas.

When asked about their views on speeding, despite years of a high-profile campaign by pressure group 20s Plenty, two of the other candidates said they sympathised in part with its aims, two candidates did not refer to the 20mph at all and one said he would use his powers to veto a “blanket” 20mph zone in settlements.

While City of York Council has committed to introducing 20mph speed limits in residential streets, campaigners from 20s Plenty and Action Vision Zero presented a 405-name petition to the authority’s leading members earlier this year calling for more 20mph limits.

Last year, 20s Plenty for North Yorkshire published the results of a survey it conducted which found 71.5 per cent of respondents in favour of a default 20mph limit in built-up areas, which it said was “consistent with UK Government surveys”.

In February, North Yorkshire’s roads boss and Conservative mayoral candidate Keane Duncan dismissed calls to introduce default 20mph zones across the county and said the matter had been democratically settled.

With just over three weeks until polling day on May 2, Mr Duncan said he would veto a blanket 20mph zone, stating it would “cost in excess of £12m and divide our communities”.

Instead, to improve road safety he said he would establish a dedicated safer and sustainable travel team to invest in targeted, effective action tailored to each location and free cycling training for every child.
However, Liberal Democrat candidate Felicity Cunliffe-LIster said she would support the default 20 mph limit where people live, with the only exception being where the road might otherwise be safe or where there are major roads.

She added: “My manifesto states my ambition to set up a scheme where dashcam camera footage can be submitted to report suspected dangerous driving, and also the use of CCTV in crime prone areas where speeding might also be an issue. I will also improve the active travel network to enable walkers and cyclists to feel safer and not in danger of speeding vehicles.”

Independent candidate Paul Haslam said villages that request 20mph limits should be supported and he was looking to create a fund that can help 20mph to become “self-enforcing”, for example by paying for chicanes as well as safe cycling and walking routes to connect schools, workplaces, public transport hubs and shopping areas.

He added: “Speed outside school is a completely different issue and 20mph should be default option if conditions allow. We need to have several tools available to our tool box here such timed speed limit changes.
Green Party candidate Kevin Foster said as the political group’s leader on North Yorkshire Council, he had worked with the 20s plenty campaign and fully supported the objectives of reduced speeds in residential areas.
He said: “I am particularly concerned about road safety near our schools where speeding and bad parking are putting our children at risk. I intend to allocate funding from the mayoral budget to support safety improvements such as safe crossing points and other measures. These will be rolled out on a priority basis.”
Police speed camera vans have remained controversial since they were introduced across York and North Yorkshire in 2011, and although the incoming mayor will have governance of the police, not one of the candidates mentioned the vans in their responses about speeding.

Nevertheless, Independent candidate Keith Tordoff said he would resource the police force “to increase cover of the vast road network” and pledged to introduce average speed cameras on problematic roads.

He said: “: Speeding can and does result in serious and fatal outcomes.

Increased road traffic policing deters speeders, and the officers can advise or prosecute offenders.”

Labour candidate David Skaith said he welcomed investment the Labour Party was “making in recruiting 13,000 new police officers and PCSOs”.

He said: “I will ensure our region gets its fair share so we can tackle issues such as speeding. I will also develop our Operation Snap system, a way in which people report incidents of speeding and other driving offences directly to the police.”

1 Comment

  1. If 71.5% of respondents to the survey conducted in North Yorkshire by 20s Plenty were in favour of a default 20mph speed limit in built-up areas, but only 405 people out of North Yorkshire’s population of 5.3 million (1 in every 13000 people – 00.0076% of the population) have signed their petition, it suggests that they didn’t get very many Respondents to said survey and that the Mayoral Candidates are right to see their campaign as a low priority/non existent issue. It also suggests that the 20’s Plenty Group were also very selective in whose opinion they chose to ask or at least report/record in their survey.

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