LOWER speed limits on York streets could be scrapped under a plan being considered by council leaders.

The 20mph scheme rolled out by the last Labour administration is under review, in a move that has outraged campaigners.

Cllr Keith Aspden, the deputy leader of the new Conservative-Lib Dem led council, announced they have asked council officials to look into removing the blanket limit and the signs around the city.

But this afternoon Rod King, founder and campaign director for the 20's Plenty group, condemned the move.

He said: "This proposal is ill-considered and expected to be challenged on several democratic and legal counts. 

"It could become a subject for a judicial review. Given the heavy responsibility that would go with any increase in speed limit and endorsement of higher speeds, we do not see it as practical, desirable, legal or deliverable.

"It is a sad reflection on the current York administration that they consider this at all."

Cllr Aspden had told a meeting of the executive they had asked officers for a report investigating the removal of 20 mph signs where appropriate, and in consultation with local communities, and investigating the legal and cost implications.

Introducing the lower limits cost the city around £500,000 to £600,000.

York Press: Does York need a city-wide 20mph limit?

20mph limits have been introduced in much of York

Cllr Ann Reid, Lib Dem spokesman for transport, has long called for the blanket policy to be scrapped. She later added: “There are areas where 20mph limits are clearly needed, such as outside schools and local shops.

"However, Labour’s blanket 20mph policy was unpopular with local residents with many strongly objecting to the limits and associated street clutter especially in areas where there were no speeding problems in the first place."

Cllr Ian Gillies, the executive member for transport, said the policy had been a "waste of time", adding that it was right his administration had pledged not to erect any more 20 mph signs "unless they are really needed."

He said: "Some of the signs are in ridiculous places - on small streets where you couldn't get up to that speed anyway. It was political dogma that put them there."

He said he believed removing the 20 mph signs would set the limit back to 30 mph.

"I would take them all down, but it all depends on the cost," he added. "Nobody is taking any notice of them anyway, and the police aren't enforcing them."

Anna Semlyen, pictured below, a former Labour councillor and a campaign manager for the national 20's Plenty group, said the new parties in power were trying to distance themselves from the previous administration, with no thought for the evidence behind the policy.

York Press: Anna Semlyen

She said: "I think it's a ludicrous suggestion, it goes against all the evidence from public health to remove public health limits."

Health bodies such as NICE, the World Health Organisation, and Public Health England all support lower speed limits, she added, while other cities such as Edinburgh are moving for more, not fewer, 20 mph zones.

Cllr Aspden's announcement came after a challenge from independent Osbaldwick councillor Mark Warters to get rid of unnecessary and unpopular street clutter in York.

But Ms Semlyen said that as well as costing the council time and money to remove the existing signs, back-tracking on lower speed limits would likely be unpopular with residents.

York Press:

Cities such as Edinburgh are embracing 20mph limits, said Ms Semlyen

She cited the case of Calderdale, where councillors are adopting a wide area of 20 mph limit with £500,000 funding granted by public health bosses who recognise the benefit slower traffic has for exercise habits.

She added: "The biggest problem in health is people not doing enough physical exercise. How on earth are you going to get people doing more physical activities if you take away lower road speeds?

"It's only side streets so it makes seconds of difference to journey times."

She blasted claims that the policy was unpopular across the city and added: "Everywhere else that has introduced 20 mph limits has seen them become more popular, not less."