When I offered to write this I thought any knowledge I had would be useful, but the more I think about it the more I want to say and the more complicated it becomes. Nevertheless I will dive in and try to write as concisely as possible, hopefully people can make some sense out of this. Also I might have some things wrong so please get in touch if I’ve made a mistake.
20mph zone outside Park Primary School
I completely support this.
How do you get a 20mph speed limit?
There are two key bodies;
Cambridgeshire County Council
Histon & Impington Parish Council
Both bodies can apply for and fund a 20mph speed limit although in both instances approval is subject to County Council agreement but strong support from the community and parish council is taken into account. A third option is those two bodies working together either through formal schemes or by agreement.
It costs money to change a speed limit and that has to be found.
See here for costings depending on size of scheme. https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/improving-the-local-highway/speeding/alternative-speed-measures
History and Politics of 20mph speed limits in Cambridgeshire.
Historically Cambridgeshire County Council has taken a very hard line on lowering speed limits refusing to allow 20mph limits unless the road has an average speed of under 24mph. This is why previously Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) have refused a 20mph speed limit in front of the Park Primary School. As average speeds are higher than 24mph.
In May the leadership of the county council switched from Conservative to a Liberal Democrat lead administration (consisting of Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent Councillors). The Liberal Democrats ran with a manifesto promise to make it far easier for communities to implement 20mph zones.
Now we take a breath. Firstly nothing in the council happens quickly. As soon as I was elected I investigated getting a 20mph zone outside Park Primary and was met with the average speeds below 24mph rule. When we as politicians were discussing how to make large areas with 20mph speed limits possible across the county I had the most recent experience of asking the question and told everyone about the 24mph average speed rule. Upon investigation it was identified that this requirement is advisory and not legally binding. Ie you can implement 20mph zones even if average speeds are higher than 24mph but if you want to do that you have to change council rules and the way officers (employees of the County Council) think.
The County Council are working out models to allow large areas to become 20mph zones (think of some of the large 20mph zones in Central Cambridge). This is not something that will happen overnight, policy has to be developed. After that it will be a Parish Council decision to apply for 20mph zones or areas here. The new County Council inherited a financial deficit of £80 million, although some County Council money is being reserved for this there is not enough for the whole county. Parish Councils will have to provide some of the money.
If you want to see 20mph zones considered across Histon & Impington make sure the Parish Council know this.
Here is a county council press release about the paper coming to the next Highways & Transport Committee meeting.
Will a speed limit reduce the speed of drivers?
The evidence isn’t great. The reason for the ‘average speed limits under 24mph’ rule is that the evidence is that it’s only in those environments that the 20mph speed limits lead to average speeds of under 20mph. Enforcement of speeding is a police issue and we know that policing resources are limited (perhaps that’s the area for the next petition).
I do, however, believe that creating the principle that speeds should be below 20mph sends a strong message that this is an area where you should expect to find a lot of active travel, ie expect to see people on the streets here. This in turn aligns with the future vision of the villages in the neighbourhood plan.
Community speed watch is a way in which the community can have an impact on speed limits. It is a very social and community focussed thing to do and they are always looking for volunteers. Speeding captured by community speed watch can lead to the issuing of a warning letter which can be effective.
It may be the case that more traffic calming measures are required to get average speeds below 20mph but a 20mph zone sends a strong message. I’d love to see it seriously considered across the whole village as for many of the residential roads no-one should be driving about 20mph anyway.
What else can be done?
Turn up in person and make a noise, I have seen this be very effective on a number of occasions. Turn up at a Parish Council meeting. Turn up at a County Council Highways & Transport meeting and ask for a 20mph zone, submit your petition to those meetings.
In both instances there are a few rules about when you’re allowed to speak and if you have to give notice of attendance so it’s worth having a quick chat with a local councillor who can give you the information and support you but by engaging with democracy and demanding more we get more. Get in touch with your County councillor (me).
Why not ask why all schools in Cambridgeshire can’t have a 20mph zone or at least all new builds starting with Histon & Impington Park Primary School.
I have raised this issue with the Chair of the Highways Committee and the different Highways officers at the County Council and have so far failed to find support for the Park Primary School as a stand alone project (partly because a change of approach for the whole county is coming). I commit to raising the issue again and will report back.