Shropshire-wide 20mph meeting snubbed by police and councils
Campaigners calling for town centres in Shropshire to become 20mph only zones is holding a conference in September – but says police and council bosses have declined an invitation to speak at an upcoming conference.
The Shropshire-wide conference, to be held at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on September 30, will be on the benefits of “default” 20mph limit for all residential roads in the county.
It is being held as part of a national 20’s Plenty For Us campaign, which has branches in Church Stretton, Ludlow, Oswestry, Shifnal and Shrewsbury. Supporters say a reduction in speed limits from 30mph to 20mph sharply increases the chances of a pedestrian or cyclist surviving an accident and also has environmental and public health benefits.
Organiser John Whitelegg said: “There is robust scientific evidence that 20mph is a highly effective public health intervention, and increases the number of people walking and cycling which in turn reduces car use, congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality.
“Many of us have argued for five years or more for a Shropshire-wide 20mph limit, but Shropshire Council refuses to adopt this policy and the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia, John Campion has said he does not support it.”
“The conference will explore the degree to which the 20mph policy commitment can assist with the delivery of Shropshire Council’s priorities which include tackling obesity, reducing congestion and air pollution.”
“Fortunately 15 million people in England and Wales now benefit from wide-area 20mph speed limits. Warrington Borough Council reports a 25 per cent decline in collisions as a result of its 20mph policy and the Scottish Parliament is considering new legislation to make 20mph general throughout Scotland on residential roads.
“All this stops when you cross the border into Shropshire.”
A crowd-funding campaign has been started to support September’s conference at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/benefits-of- a-shropshire- wide-conference- for-20mph, but Mr Whitelegg said invitations to Rod Thomson, Shropshire’s Director of Public Health, and Mr Campion had not been taken up.
“All Shropshire Council councillors and cabinet members are invited. All town councils in Shropshire have been invited to send a delegate,” he said.
“The conference will present the solid scientific evidence around why 20mph is a major contribution to road safety, reducing road traffic danger, reducing death and injury, improving public health and transforming streets.
“Speakers will answer questions about enforcement, air pollution and costs and, subject to the agreement of all those present, we will ask that Shropshire Council as a matter of urgency adopts a system-wide general default 20mph speed limit,” he said.
Mr Campion has said that drivers are more likely to respond to changes to the road layout than a blanket 20mph restriction, and a “one size fits all” approach would require extra effort to enforce.
Speaking previously, he said: “Blanket, arbitrary imposition of 20mph zones just don’t work across large urban areas, they work outside schools, they work in small sections of town centres, but blanket zones have been shown just don’t work.”
Shropshire Council was unavailable for comment.