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Political twist in York's 20mph speed limit rule row
YORK’S council leader has challenged political rivals over their opposition to a city-wide 20mph rule after their national party called for lower limits.
Concerns were this week raised by a City of York Council transport boss that such zones may create a “false sense of security” for pedestrians and lead to them becoming less vigilant.
City-wide 20 mph zones are set to be implemented on residential roads throughout the city by the Labour-run authority over the next three years.
Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show the number of accidents in 20mph areas across the UK rose by a quarter last year, although proponents say this is due to the increased number of such zones.
The council’s Liberal Democrat group said the statistics “undermined” claims the schemes make roads safer.
But council leader James Alexander, whose party’s 2011 manifesto pledged York-wide 20mph limits, said the national Lib Dem conference next month would debate a motion backing the reduced limit on all residential roads. He said that showed the local group’s stance was at odds with the national party and he has written to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to thank him for “supporting this idea”.
York Liberal Democrat leader Coun Carol Runciman said the motion was not national party policy and would be decided on a free vote, adding she planned to speak against it.
Coun Alexander said: “Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is backing 20mph speed limits where the York Lib Dems will not.
“We were elected with this specific manifesto pledge and I’m sure people, whatever their views, can respect that it is right for politicians to honour the pledges they were elected on.”
Coun Runciman said: “We believe 20mph limits are useful in certain areas and support their introduction where they are needed, but Coun Alexander is clearly getting desperate after a recent council report undermined Labour’s case for a blanket approach. Unfortunately, he is ignoring this evidence and pushing on with the commitment in a frantic attempt to deliver at least one manifesto pledge.”