Council drops public poll to speed up introduction of 20mph

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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7 Responses to Council drops public poll to speed up introduction of 20mph

  1. croydonres says:

    20mph too slow–30 too fast.
    There been no debate about reducing the urban speed limit from 30 to 25mph.
    Could Croydon dare to be different ?

  2. Lewis White says:

    Some years ago I asked a senior policeman at a public meeting (the Neighbourhood Partnerships meetings- sadly axed by the Conservatives a few years ago) about enforcement of a 20mph limit if one were designated for Coulsdon Town Centre.

    Response from the officer: “We will not enforce it.”

    Not “would not be able to”, but “will not” enforce it.

    What I don’t like about the 20mph limit in ALL streets other than main roads is that it will raise road stress for those law-abiding citizens who adhere to the 20mph limit. They will find impatient drivers tail-gating them. That is why I think we should have had a national speedlimit reduction to 25mph.

  3. Enforcing the 20mph limit means standing out in the cold… so much easier to sit at a desk checking Twitter / Facebook for rude comments.

  4. It’s good that in the 5½ years since that crass announcement recalled by Lewis White was made by a serving officer, attitudes and practices have changed.

    Police services across the country are now enforcing 20mph limits, and Croydon is no exception. Norwood police have, through their Twitter account @MPSNorwood, announced in recent weeks that they took enforcement action in Bradley Road, SE19 resulting in 7 drivers “to expect reports to their doors” for breaching the 20mph limit. Similar action has been reported in Virginia Road and Green Lane. If it’s good enough for Thornton Heath, it’s good enough for the rest of the borough, including Coulsdon.

    Diluting the speed limit to 25mph when other councils are bold and bright enough to go for 20 would cause confusion. Some US cities have adopted 25 as their limit, but this will mean victims of collisions there will suffer more serious injuries than would be the case were 20mph adopted and enforced instead.

    The question of public polls is one for the Council, but it does seem bizarre that a manifesto commitment to making our streets safer has been subjected to a referendum. Not only are residents being handed a potential veto of that pledge, they are being enabled to vote to keep roads dangerous and to ignore preventable deaths and injuries. We deserve better.

  5. mraemiller says:

    I believe you’re only allowed multiples of 10 on road traffic signs because of fears of visual confusion. Having a number divisible by 10 means you only have to read one number on the sign which is either 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 7 …..the other is always 0. If you had multiples of five there’d be 14 permutations not 7 and someone would have to decide if a 25 was needed in between each 20 and 30 which would result is insane micromanagement

  6. croydonres says:

    Thanks for your information , above readers Austen and mraemiller . Good to know that police are taking action now, and I take the point re multiples of 10 on signs. It will be interesting to see an analysis in a year to see how many exceeded 20mph by how much. I just looked up the European limits for France, Belgium, Netherlands etc. Most have 50 km ph for general urban limit (31mph) and 30 km ph for special areas ( 18mph). Whilst this certainly confirms that the thinking on limits is similar to our 30mph and 20mph, I remain of the opinion that in pre-Brexit Europe we should have gone for a general reduction from 50 km ph to 40 km ph for “General urban use” –which is 24 mph, just below my 25mph. Like most drivers I used to drive carefully, at around 20mph along the densely parked-up streets of Thornton Heath before the 20mph limit came in, children and dogs running out between the cars being my concern. I will try not to exceed the new limit if it is imposed in other areas too, and hope I don’t get tailgated and headlamp flashed by angry men and women in more open Croydon roads if a universal 20mph comes in. (Yes, it has happened to me before, but thankfully, most people are considerate, in my experience, so let’s hope this prevails).

    • Nick Davies says:

      I’m impressed you managed to get Brexit into it despite it not having anything at all do with speed limits.

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