Denial of 20mph feasibility review sparks outcry from West Northamptonshire Council opposition

The review was given the 'guillotine' after the full council meeting ran over time

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 5:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 5:06 pm

The Labour Group in Northampton has raised concerns after a feasibility assessment of a 20mph speed limit in areas of the county was voted down unanimously by the Conservative-led West Northamptonshire Council.

The vote took place on Thursday (December 2) as part of West Northamptonshire's Full Council meeting.

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Labour claims that two thirds of road accidents happen in 30mph areas including residential.

Due to time constraints, there was no debate before the votes were cast. This is known as the 'guillotine' being 'dropped'.

If passed, the assessment, which was proposed by Labour Councillor for Abington and Phippsville Bob Purser, would have judged the practicality of reducing speed limits to 20mph in urban areas of Northamptonshire, among others.

Labour Group deputy leader Emma Roberts, who seconded the motion and recently took part in Road Safety Week events, said the result falls short of commitments made by the Conservative Council.

She said: "I think it's disappointing for two reasons. The first is that it didn't ask them to commit to anything, just to have a feasibility review.

"Secondly it would have been a great opportunity to prove a commitment to their sustainability goals.

"The council has made a big noise about how we're going to be bigger and better than other councils in this regard, and yet they wouldn't take part in an initiative that has sustainability at its heart.

"Reviews like that have a significant impact both on road users' safety, as well as on air and noise pollution."

The councillor also said the concept is heavily supported by Road Safety Professionals, BRAKE - the road safety charity, the World Health Organisation and the General Assembly of the United Nations, among others.

But Phil Larrett, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste, disagreed.

He said that the proposal was far too broad in scope and was not specific enough to be practically implemented.

This perhaps was not helped by an amendment agreed between Labour and the Liberal Democrats which extended the review to some rural areas as well as the urban spaces originally listed.

Councillor Larrett said: "It was a feasability review across large areas.

"We'd be very happy to look at the feasibility review of specific areas, in conjunction with the police, to see if they work and help increase the safety of the area as well.

"I understand the issues and I am sure we'll be looking into them as we develop our sustainability strategy, which hasn't even been launched yet.

"It isn't something we're totally averse to. But we will take it forward on our terms in due course."

Supporters will have to wait at least six months before they can resubmit their motion.

They are now faced with the decision of whether to 'water down' their request and try to pass that, or wait to try the full motion again.