Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Council should get on with the job of saving lives

I have previously blogged about Manchester City Council's proposed 20mph speed limit options and my concerns that some Councillors and Officers favour implementing a £42million scheme with traffic calming on every residential road. This is clearly a ridiculous idea and certainly not what the motion we passed called for. It is deeply disappointing that the Council is not taking the lead on this issue and has confirmed it is just waiting for a Government handout before it will roll the scheme out. Other Councils have got on with the job of saving lives.

Some Manchester Councillors seem to misunderstand how 20mph limits are working in other cities; they think the policy should be about rolling out 20mph zones across the city. Effective 20mph limits can be achieved with community ownership alongside establishment endorsement. This can be achieved with an effective public information campaign, and entry and reminder signs which would be much less costly and have been proven to work in many Cities. The Council's own report even acknowledges the successes in Portsmouth which did not need to implement widespread traffic calming.

Yesterday I met with Transport Minister Norman Baker MP (Pictured) who agreed with Manchester Liberal Democrats that this Council does not need to introduce expensive and unnecessary traffic calming on every single road. He said that thanks to the changes the Liberal Democrats have made in Government it will be quicker, cheaper and simpler for this Council to introduce 20mph limits and he looked forward to this happening.

Yesterday I also met with Terry Sweeney the Assistant Chief Constable of GMP. He was very encouraging about the potential 20mph limits could have to reduce accidents and to reclaim streets for all road users. Mr Sweeney also agreed that it was not necessary for every single road to have traffic calming but suggested Manchester should look to introduce a phased scheme so that lessons can be learnt from a pilot in part of the City. At today's Full Council meeting I encouraged the Executive Member to consider this option.

In Islington the Council set up a 20mph board bringing together all the different agencies affected to help implement 20mph limits in their borough. At today's Council meeting I said Council Bosses should now look to follow suit and establish a board so we can get this policy moving in Manchester.

A Liberal Democrat run Council would not hide behind bureaucracy and would get on with introducing 20 mph speed limits and saving lives.

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