Croydon Council officials have admitted that they need to speed up their own work if they are to implement 20mph speed limits on all the borough’s residential streets.
The council wants to skip the opinion surveys which it used as a form of consultation over the introduction of 20mph zones in the north of the borough and which almost thwarted the entire project.
The case for 20mph speed limits on residential streets – the reduced limit does not apply to major roads – is well made, on environmental, air quality grounds as well as for safety concerns, with organisations including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents providing reams of statistics to show how cars travelling at slower speeds are less likely to cause serious or fatal injury if involved in a collision, and even avoid collisions altogether.
Yet even in the Labour-voting north of the borough, the Labour-run council’s previous 20mph zone public consultations have been close-run things – in part, at least, because of a defiant and sometimes barely legal one-man campaign from car lobbyist Peter Morgan, who managed to turn the consultations into referendums on the subject, utilising multiple online identities to support his opposition. In one zone, public approval for 20mph zones was a mere 52 per cent…
Meanwhile, as the case for 20mph zones is to be made to the south of the borough, Coulsdon resident Morgan, despite having been kicked out of both the Tory Party and UKIP, continues to operate in some capacity as a traffic adviser to the Croydon Conservatives.
With time running out to implement 20mph zones, Tony Newman’s Labour group has decided to drop the pretence at public involvement and instead conduct only the bare minimum consultation as required by law. The time-consuming optional opinion surveys will be dropped.
In a statement issued from Fisher’s Folly this week, the council said that it “wants to make sure of hitting its March 2018 implementation timetable by formally consulting the three remaining areas at the same time in January and February 2017”.
What the council calls “recommendations”, will be rubber-stamped without alteration at the council cabinet meeting on December 12.
“The cabinet report states that the change is necessary to meet the March 2018 timetable because engagement on areas 1 and 2 took longer than expected, and that this would simplify the consultation process,” the council stated, in a rare admission that officials have miscalculated and mishandled the process to deliver what was a manifesto commitment from Labour in 2014.
“This makes our 20mph consultation process simpler and more like what other London boroughs have done, and every household and business in the three areas will get to have their say,” according to Stuart King, the council’s cabinet member for transport.
Of course, a key aspect of speed limits is enforcement, and there is justifiable scepticism among the public that the under-resourced and under-staffed police are doing enough – if anything at all – to monitor and catch drivers who ignore the 20mph limits.
The council this week claimed, “Police have already been monitoring and catching speeding drivers in Area 1 streets since they became 20mph.” Notably, though, they provided no statistics for the number of prosecutions arising as a consequence of this police action. Which probably means that there haven’t been any at all.
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