Road Safety News

York council rethinks 20mph scheme

Friday 10th July 2015

The ‘blanket’ 20mph scheme in York, introduced by the previous Labour administration, is under review by the new Conservative/Lib Dem council.

The move has been condemned by the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us. Rod King MBE, 20’s Plenty founder, described it as “ill-considered” and says he expects it “to be challenged on several democratic and legal counts”.

According to The (York) Press, councillor Keith Aspden, deputy leader of City of York Council, has asked council officers to look into the legal and cost implications of removing the blanket limit and the signs around the city, which are believed to have cost around £500,000 to £600,000 to introduce.

Councillor Ann Reid, Lib Dem spokesman for transport, told The York Press: “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."

Councillor Ian Gillies, executive member for transport, 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.

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

Rod King MBE added: “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.”


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20mph in genuinely high risk locations at genuine high risk times does make sense. However 24/7 limits over wide areas makes no sense what so ever. For normal roads 30mph is perfectly safe and sensible, restricting 20mph to genuinely high risk areas would result in much greater levels of compliance.
Peter, Leeds

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I suggest you address your questions to the current portfolio holder for transport Cllr Ian Gillies. As I have already said, 20's Plenty for Us does NOT support such isolated schemes.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (0) | Disagree (3)

Again Rod, I don't care who implements the schemes. The fact remains that once implemented they remain and it seems are never revisited or reviewed. I have seen no comment from you denouncing these badly thought out schemes or any indication that you would support their removal. The reference to which administration put them in smacks of an excuse. When will councils be held responsible for the damage and expense suffered both monetarily and to quality of life by ordinary road users and local residents? Is an impact assessment of works like this ever completed and if so by whom as they seem to be getting it very, very wrong and I am yet to see any benefits in casualty reduction!
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)


I believe that the Haxby scheme was implemented in 2007 by the then Lib-Dem administration. It was never a community-wide scheme. It is exactly the sort of scheme that 20's Plenty for Us has always campaigned against.

So it was a scheme that was put in by the very people (ie those in the new administration) that hold the Saxby type scheme as their model and are campaigning against the community wide schemes put in throughout the city of York by the 2010 to 2015 administration.

The current administration has said that it has no plans to add any further 20mph limits in the villages such as Saxby.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (1) | Disagree (5)

I don't actually care which administration put the limits in place. I care about the bad implementation and blanket approach which I think is dangerous. Outside schools, hospitals etc or in smaller residential roads is fine and possibly sensible (if evidence is obtained to back it up). I will give just one example in York which you can check on google street view. In Haxby, the junction of Eastfield Avenue and Greystone Court or any of the other small roads serving dwellings. Eastfield Avenue is a road serving a whole estate and also a bus route and has traffic calming and a 20mph limit, all other smaller roads off this road serving dwellings are 30mph. Thats just one example of very bad implementation. I can give you more if you require?
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

That's correct Honor. I was focusing on the one councilor who happens to be the Transport and Planning Portfolio holder! I am pleased that members will be getting information on the legal and other implications from officers.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (3) | Disagree (8)

You have chosen to focus on one part of one quote from one councillor. The rest of the article and the quotes from other councillors make it clear that they have asked officers to assess and report on what would be involved should they seek to remove any 20 mph limits and signage. This information will then enable members to make informed decisions.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)


In the press article referenced it said about Cllr Gillies:-

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

This and other comments made in media point towards councilors believing that the full TRO procedure would not be required and that simply "removing signs" would result in a 30mph limit becoming operational.

This sets a very dangerous precedent in terms of not following due process to set an appropriate limit and could verge on the illegal. This would especially be the case because the 30mph limit on these streets was specifically revoked as part of the original TRO. Such a move would result in an unenforceable 20mph limit (not complying with TSRGD) and no 30mph limit.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (4) | Disagree (11)

My understanding from this article is that elected members of York City Council have announced that they may wish to review the 20 mph limits within the city. They have asked officers to report to them on the legal and cost factors that would be involved. I cannot see any indication that they propose this would be undertaken in any way outside of the necessary legal and democratic requirements and procedures.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (12) | Disagree (0)

What we do understand is that any change to local speed limits must follow due process and conform to national legislation around not only the Road Traffic Act, but also a number of other laws (including the Equality Act) which apply to the way that councils discharge their duty. Any breach of these, or encouragement of others to breach these may well incur a corporate or personal liability on behalf of councillors. These apply just as much to increasing speed limits as reducing them. Due process and national laws must be followed.

I think that you will find that any 20mph zones with largely physical calming were introduced by the 2005-2010 administration in York. The last administration implemented 20mph on all side roads and kept 30mph on main arterial routes. Its the current administration that wants to revert side roads to 30.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (3) | Disagree (9)

Do I detect here a long-overdue turning of the 20mph tide? I hope so.

Comments by Rod here and elsewhere about such changes being "illegal" suggest that he does not understand one of the vital principles of any democracy - "No Parliament May Bind Its Successors" (and therefore no local authority either). As Tom Paine wrote in "The Rights of Man" 350 years ago, "The vanity of governing beyond the grave is the most insolent of all tyrannies............each generation must be free to govern itself".

That means, Rod, that any law is, whether you like it or not, open to repeal at any time, if that is what the public want and legislators decide.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (21) | Disagree (4)

Having family members in York I welcome this news. I can point out many cases where main bus routes through housing estates are now limited to 20 with noisy, polluting traffic calming is used and cul-de-sacs straight off these roads (where kids often play) are plainly signed at 30! The inability to think clearly and inact sensible rules is damaging to the rules being followed more generally.
Steve Armstrong

Agree (18) | Disagree (4)

What excellent news! Let's hope that other Authorities follow York's lead and review the folly of 20 limits.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (25) | Disagree (5)


If I can correct a couple of your comments:-

Well it was never a "blanket" scheme and excluded most arterial roads.

The TSRGD still insists on a 20mph repeater sign or traffic calming device every 100m. Something which we campaign against as unnecessary when whole authorities are setting 20mph as the norm.

This really is being "driven" much more by local politics than anything else.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (17)

The original proposal was covered in this news feed two years ago and it was reported that from approx 13000 statutory notices, the number of objections reeived were around 90 odd. That seems to me like only approx 0.7% of those likely to be affected actually objected. If and when a new higher limit is advertised therefore, I would hope that the same number of notices are issued and I would expect far more objections to reverting to higher limit than there were to the lower limit. The statutory processes allow the public to object, rather than a councillor deciding for them.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (12)

I am quite surprised that a blanket scheme has cost so much money as I believed rightly or wrongly that it would only require minimal signage at the beginning and end of all arterial roads and maybe some minor ones. If one was to take down all the existing signage and replace it street by street the cost would be phenomenal. I believe that this is just the beginning of a social revolution and that more councils will come under pressure in the future to return to the status quo of 30 mph.
Bob craven Lancs....Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (16) | Disagree (6)

Democracy is when the majority makes and effects a decision. If the residents and businesses of York - and if they are in the majority - choose to want them removed, then clearly a democratic decision is being aimed for, and to deny that is undemocratic and dictatorial. It is claimed no-one is taking any notice of them and there were no speeding problems in the first place, so any claim they have improved accident statistics would certainly come into doubt.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (26) | Disagree (8)