Croydon’s own referendum – over whether part of the borough’s residential streets should be turned into a 20mph zone – turned out to be a narrow victory for the party in power.
The Labour-run council’s proposals for streets in parts of Addiscombe, Ashburton, Woodside, Shirley, Heathfield, Fairfield, and parts of Selhurst and South Norwood won approval in a public consultation from 52 per cent of those who bothered to respond, the council announced this afternoon.
It is the second swathe of the borough to be given a slower speed limit, following a similar consultation held in Upper Norwood, Thornton Heath, Selhurst, Bensham Manor, parts of South Norwood and in Norbury last year. The new speed limit signs are due to go up in residential streets in these areas by the end of this month.
Through roads – mainly those under the control of Transport for London – will not be affected by the change in speed limit.
That previous consultation proved controversial, with Peter Morgan, a Coulsdon-based car lobbyist, accused of funding “No to 20” leaflets and stickers which were fly-posted around the area, helping to generate a similarly narrow final outcome.
In today’s announcement, the council said, “Many residents gave detailed feedback, and all comments will be analysed carefully as part of the formal approval process that now has to be carried out through the council’s traffic management committee before Phase Two can be started.”
What remained unstated was the absence of any additional resources to ensure enforcement of the 20mph limit. With police manpower in London already overstretched, it seems most unlikely that patrolling Croydon’s residential streets with a speed gun will be something the Met’s finest will be doing any time soon.
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How many people voted ? What percentage of the total electorate were the 52% who approved the proposal ?
Those are mere details, which of course our open and transparent council failed to include in its press announcement.
Every household in the affected areas received notices about the proposal and everyone had the opportunity to express their view. But as I understand it this is only the first stage, I believe the 2nd stage is to consult people across the borough.
In addition to the official notices, there were leaflet drops by groups opposed to the proposals that claim to represent UK drivers.
It is likely however that there would have been a higher response rate in areas affected most by the flow of through traffic.
My own view is that the 20 mph cannot come quickly enough to incentivise drivers to remain on the main roads. It is noticeable that residents in East Croydon tend to drive fairly slowly as they work their way through the streets. It seems to be cars without residents parking permits that are most likely to speed.
I feel it is a huge pity that nationally we are not reducing the urban limit from 30 to 25mph.
My feeling is that 20 is fine for small, heavily parked side streets, in inner London and the busier areas of Croydon, but for most suburban streets, it is too slow.
My guess is that most people will not respect it, and will continue to drive at around 30mph. But 30 is really too fast for many roads.
25 is about right, in my experience as a driver, for most side streets in Croydon. It is not too slow, and is safer, allowing drivers to stop quickly if adult pedestrians, children or animals enter the road.
If most people fail to respect a law, and the police fail to enforce it, it will come into disrepute.
It is not right, in my view, to rationalise this by saying “If the limit is 20, people will drive at 25, and the police will add a leeway of 5 on top of 20, so the 20mph is OK. ”
I sent these observations to the Council in the last round of consultations.