SHEFFIELD Council has pledged that proposed 20mph zones will not be imposed in areas where people do not want them - although a city-wide policy is being approved by councillors today.
Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for transport, said the council believes the lower speed limit should apply to residential streets across Sheffield - although streets outside schools will be considered first.
He also revealed that £40,000 allocated towards creating 20mph zones in the current financial year would pay for ‘feasibility work’ - rather than installation of any 20mph signs.
Coun Bramall said: “Installation of the 20mph zones will be part of the £1.2 billion Highways PFI scheme. It makes sense because the 20mph signs for each zone can be fixed to the other side of ‘give way’ signs and other posts we are replacing during the scheme.
“It will mean the cost is around 10 per cent of what it would otherwise be.”
But he promised: “We are not going to impose these 20mph zones on areas that do not want them.”
Former Liberal Democrat Sheffield Council leader, Coun Paul Scriven, told The Star he was against the idea.
He said using funds for the change from the £1.2 billion Highways PFI scheme will take money away from its primary purpose - to resurface the city’s crumbling roads and pavements.
Coun Scriven said: “When the Lib Dems were in power, we had an approach that communities who wanted 20mph zones could request them via the Community Assemblies. There was not an overwhelming number that came forward.
“We believe there are certain areas where such a scheme could be a benefit, but not others. In many streets, the way they are laid out means it is difficult to drive at more than 20mph anyway, so why pay for signs for these streets?”
But campaign group ‘20s Plenty for Sheffield’ said there are five good reasons for a 20mph limit - healthier and safer walking routes, a reduced perception of danger on the roads, improved access to green spaces, a lower spend on tackling fewer accidents, and kudos.
“Sheffield has a window of opportunity to set the bar for people’s quality of life at a new height,” the group said.
* Council plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit on every residential road in the city have prompted a wave of criticism from readers of The Star.
Scores left comments on our website yesterday after we revealed the news.
Although many agreed with the theory, they said the fact it was not to be enforced meant it would never work.
Others said a better answer would be to improve road safety education and encourage more families to walk to school.
Janet Kay, aged 69, of Richmond Road, Stradbroke, which already has a 20mph speed limit, agreed with the idea in principle. “But it only works if motorists actually stick to the limits, and I don’t think they do,” she said.
Ken Dixon asked: “Who is going to police the 20mph? Nobody polices the 30mph. What a waste of time and money.”
Another reader agreed: “Ultimately this does make sense. However, not enforcing it means it is pointless.”
Charlie Farleigh said: “More craziness! Instead of targeting innocent motorists the emphasis should be on training kids in road safety and asking parents to be more vigilant.”
But ‘Zap’ said the new speed limit would be a good plan. “With the poor state of the roads generally is it safe to drive any quicker? On main arterial roads let’s get the traffic moving, remove some of the road hazards, and everyone would be happy.”
However, ‘Woodseats Sammy’ said wryly the idea was unnecessary anyway. “Thanks to the number of potholes and parked vehicles, it’s near impossible to achieve a speed above 20mph on most roads already.”