RESIDENTS should not be asked whether they want 20mph limits near their homes, a York councillor and leading campaigner for lower speeds has claimed.
Anna Semlyen, who represents City of York Council’s Dringhouses and Woodthorpe ward and manages the 20’s Plenty For Us campaign, said public consultation on the limits – which are being rolled out on most residential streets throughout York by the Labour-controlled authority – was expensive, time-consuming and unnecessary, claiming “impartial research” had already shown public support.
York’s city-wide 20mph scheme will cost £500,000, but opponents say it will not reduce speeds or prevent accidents and a more targeted approach should be taken instead.
Last year, a council survey on 20mph proposals in west York, sent to 13,000 homes, drew only 97 responses, with only seven people supporting the scheme. The authority said the survey was not intended to gauge the initiative’s popularity.
In a briefing about the 20’s Plenty For Us campaign, sent in her capacity as a 20mph campaigner, Coun Semlyen, said: “Consultation is valuable if you can’t predict the outcome, but is costly and takes time.
“If the question is ‘do you want 20mph limits?’, the majority reply ‘yes’. Should public funds be spent asking people questions we know the answers to, or on getting on with increasing safety?
“On 20mph limits, there is little point half-heartedly sounding out general opinion and wasting resources and time when surveys consistently show more than 70 per cent support it.”
Conservative leader Coun Chris Steward said: “It is interesting to see Coun Semlyen admit her view that residents should not have a say over their own communuties and things should instead be dictated from above.
“We welcome lower speeds in residential areas, but need to look at the evidence base and, above all, let local residents have their say.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Anne Reid, who is also a Dringhouses and Woodthorpe ward member, said: “To say most people want 20mph limits is not reflected in the comments residents make to me – most want targeted speed limit reductions, not wholesale 20mph zones which cannot be enforced.”
The council is set to introduce 20mph limits in residential areas across north York as the next stage of its city-wide scheme, saying they are intended to be self-enforcing, encourage more people to walk and cycle and “raise confidence in the safety of neighbourhoods”.
Speed limit order notices will be displayed when the plans are finalised and residents will be able to comment on them.