Support grows for enforceable 20mph speed limits

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A Borders councillor calling for enforceable 20mph speed limit zones in residential areas is “very encouraged” by the support he has received.

Councillor Stuart Bell (Tweeddale East) says a number of fellow elected members are backing the proposed introduction of enforceable 20mph zones.

“They want areas in their towns added to list of those demanding action for safer streets,” said Councillor Bell.

He was commenting after winning an assurance the issue would be raised with roads officials at Newtown, despite fears over the cost of creating the zones and the ability of the police carry out enforcement.

Mr Bell, who is the executive member for economic development, told Thursday’s full council meeting it was time for SBC to “catch up” with other local authorities, including Edinburgh.

“There is continued demand from the public for steps to be taken to reduce the speed of vehicles in our residential areas, most recently in Peebles, Hawick, West Linton and Selkirk to name but a few,” said Mr Bell.

He cited the example of Edinburgh where the city council was advertising the required speed limit orders and was planning to phase in enforceable 20mph zones.

Addressing Councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for roads, Mr Bell asked: “What steps are you prepared to take to support such initiatives to make our residential streets safe for children, pedestrians and cyclists?”

Mr Edgar conceded the speed of traffic in residential areas had always been “a topic of concern”. He added: “Our policy remains that, by and large, 20mph limits – the advisory Twenty’s Plenty zones – are restricted to areas outside schools and on the approaches to schools because this is where they can be most effective. Previous traffic calming initiatives have been shown to become less effective the wider they have been introduced.”

Mr Edgar cautioned that while current Transport Scotland guidance did not encourage councils to bring in more advisory zones, the favoured option of introducing 20mph enforceable speed limit areas would involve “significant financial implications both in terms of initial set up and maintenance costs”.

He said: “It should be noted the council currently struggles to maintain its existing 20mph electronic sign provision.”

“Any review of the policy…will have to be carried out in conjunction with Police Scotland but I will certainly raise the issue with our officers.”

After the meeting, Mr Bell said it was clear, given Transport Scotland’s advice, that any new 20mph zones would have to be enforceable and that this presented financial and policing challenges.