Will Forster

Campaigning to be the Lib Dem MP for Woking, Deputy Leader of Woking Borough Council and Councillor in South Woking Learn more

Tories reject proposals for signage only 20 mph zones

by willforster on 19 January, 2022

Yesterday, the Conservatives running Surrey County Council dismissed calls by the Lib Dems and I to roll out 20 mph zones in residential roads and outside schools across Surrey.

My Lib Dem colleagues and I put forward a motion calling for a bigger and bolder programme of schemes to implement 20 mph areas using signs only, in a bid to facilitate better conditions for walking and cycling; improve road safety; tackle climate change and to allow residents to enjoy the resulting wider health benefits.

The proposals were voted down by the Tory administration who blocked the motion with the argument that the current approach was the best approach, and nothing needed to change.

Those like me who supporting the motion, cautioned that Surrey County Council ran the risk of being left behind by neighbouring authorities who had already taken the step of implementing similar ‘signs only’ schemes. Instead, the Conservatives want controversial and expensive traffic calming measures such as speed humps, to be installed in many potential 20 mph zones.

I think it was really disappointing that the Tory Councillors saw fit to counter our motion with such a negative amendment. I have previously spoken to some Conservatives who have privately expressed support for this sort of scheme to be introduced in communities where there is local support – but Tory politicians always do what their leadership tells them to do when it comes to voting.

The Lib Dems made the climate change argument on the basis it would reduce vehicle emissions, but this was not even acknowledged by the Council’s administration. This would be a really good starting point for having those difficult conversations with residents about the sort of changes we will all have to make on an individual level to combat the climate crisis.

There is a lot of evidence – such as the recent Scottish Borders 20 mph pilot schemes – which demonstrate that, with the right engagement and communication with residents, signage only 20 mph areas can work. I had hoped that at the very least the County Council would consider – and separately fund – a selection of signage only 20 mph pilot zones with residents without speed tests and traffic calming measures, but it appears that we will have to wait a little longer for progress on this.

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