Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Twenty's Plenty in Manchester

You may remember that in February I blogged about a successful motion I put forward to reduce the default speed limit on Manchester's Roads to 20mph. This morning I attended the Council's Executive where they were considering a report about how to implement the policy.

The report proposes three options to implement the policy. The basic and my preferred option would cost £2.8 million and would involve an extensive consultation and education campaign and entry signs into 20mph areas (as pictured for Chorlton ward) and reminder 20mph signs every 500m. Another option would cost £41million and in addition to the basic model would involve introducing traffic calming on all unmarked and C Roads. I think this option is ridiculous and certainly not what the motion I put forward asked for. A third middle option would cost £9.2million and would involve the basic model with traffic calming on C Roads.

I was delighted that both Liberal Democrat and Labour Councillors still supported the policy and that it was confirmed that the £2.8million plan will save lives. However I was disappointed that the Council have confirmed they will not be putting any money up until the Government confirms how much they will be able to offer in support. Last week at the Budget Council Meeting the Manchester Liberal Democrats put forward an alternative budget which included £200,000 for Twenty's Plenty. Sadly this motion was voted down and the Labour budget included nothing for implementing the policy. Following the successful Council motion John Leech MP asked Transport Minister Norman Baker MP what support may be available. At that point the Minister said that the Transport Department (DfT) had money available that it needed to spend before the end of financial year but would need to know the cost of implementing the scheme to know what support the Government could offer. John and I immediately got on to the Council and asked them for an estimate. We were denied an estimate despite telling the Council that it would be in their interests. As a result the DfT has spent its budget for the year and MCC has lost out. My colleague Cllr Paul Shannon at the Executive today questioned why they have not approached the Government for support at a much earlier stage. I believe the Council officers should have spoken with DfT straight after the motion passed (as John did) as this could have helped to influence the plans being proposed. As a result of inaction the Council will now have to wait and see if DfT have any available cash in next year's budget.

I am concerned that the Council 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. Despite what the Council report suggests I think 20mph zones are not the most effective ways of reducing speed (because drivers speed up between calming measures) and you do not need to introduce copious amounts of expensive traffic calming. I believe Twenty's Plenty is about an effective public information campaign 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.

I am concerned about why the Council considers that it is going to cost so much to introduce 20mph speed limits (£2.8m). 20's Plenty For Us, the national campaign group, estimates the cost of introducing the policy is £3 per head of population. Surely Manchester should be looking to introduce this for about £1.5million? I will be raising these concerns when I meet with the Minister later in the month; and will be calling on the Government to find money to support this worthwhile policy that will save lives!

I would be interested to know your thoughts and any suggestions you may have. Please let me know if you would like me to send you a better quality image of the proposed 20mph areas within Chorlton Ward or any other area in Manchester. The 20mph signs on the map indicate proposed 20mph entrance signs.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be really interested in seeing a more detailed map of the proposed plans.

    Best regards

    Richard Douglas