Bucks Council dismisses following Wales with blanket 20mph limit in built-up areas

The concept has also been criticised by the Prime Minister
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Buckinghamshire Council has said that 20 mile per hour zones are not always an “appropriate” way to reduce speeding.

It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described such schemes as “hare-brained” and part of a “war on motorists” in an interview last month.

The Government has also announced in a policy paper that it would seek to curb councils’ use of 20mph zones and measures such as low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

20mph sign (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)20mph sign (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
20mph sign (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Mr Sunak has said that 20mph zones make sense near schools but should not be introduced in a “blanket” way like the Welsh Government has done in built-up areas.

Bucks Council also suggested “blanket” 20mph schemes may be ineffective when asked by the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) how its powers will be affected by the Prime Minister’s promised crackdown on local authorities.

Steven Broadbent, Cabinet Member for Transport said: “Buckinghamshire Council has a clear policy on 20mph limits and follows existing Department for Transport (DfT) guidance.

“Any further DfT changes will be reviewed with regards to our own policy as and when required following any changes made by the government.

“The existing DfT guidelines are backed up by solid research which outlines the best way for achieving desired speed limits in any given area.

“They demonstrate that the implementation of a blanket 20mph zone is not always the most appropriate course of action to reduce speeding.

“Any request for a 20mph zone in Buckinghamshire must adhere to the DfT guidance and additionally requires appropriate funding and the support of locally elected members.”

The council says that changing a speed limit costs over £10,000 and that residents can request a change by contacting their parish or town council.

Changes to speed limits will require external funding from parish or town councils, community boards, independent sources such as local businesses or a Section 106 developer-funded agreement.

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DfT guidance states that 20mph limits “generally lead to only small reductions in traffic speeds.”

Speed limits are slightly different to 20mph zones, which feature traffic calming measures such as speed bumps.

Cycling charity Sustrans backed the Welsh Government’s introduction of 20mph default speed limits, saying they will make streets “safer”.

However, some Buckinghamshire residents disagree, including Luke Orion, who lives in Marlow and works in High Wycombe.

He told the LDRS: “I drive in London a lot in my job and nearly all roads are 20mph. Even really wide roads. It’s ridiculous.

“I can see a reason for it outside of schools etc. Apart from that it is just a revenue raising scam.”

The motorist claimed that 30mph limits were appropriate for built-up areas as drivers “barely do 30 anyway” due to roads being busy.

He added: “Most people are sick of the perpetual war on motorists.”

Wales was the first UK nation to lower speed limits in built-up areas to 20mph last month.

However, over 460,000 people have signed a petition calling for the scheme to be scrapped.

The Welsh Government announced the speed change rule in an attempt to make neighbourhoods safer.