More money required for 20mph zones

Twenty MPH speed limit zones at Stradbroke in Sheffield
Twenty MPH speed limit zones at Stradbroke in Sheffield
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HIGHWAYS chiefs will have to bid for a share of Government cash before a project to create 20mph zones on residential streets around Sheffield can become a reality, the council’s highways supremo has revealed.

Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for transport, said while £40,000 is being spent this financial year on a survey to find out where the reduced speed limits can be applied and how many new signs and road markings would be required, the council needs more money.

The only work that has funding guaranteed is replacement of existing street signs and posts, funded through the £1.2 billion private finance initiative programme to resurface the city’s crumbling roads and pavements.

Most of the funding for 20mph zones would have to be applied for from the Local Transport Plan fund, paid by the Government to councils to spend on projects such as road safety schemes and small-scale highways improvements.

Coun Bramall said: “The £40,000 allocated this year will not pay for any 20mph signs. It will be used to assess which residential areas are suitable and for detailed work such as costing.

“We do not yet know how much 20mph zones will cost to set up. We have to identify which areas are suitable for them, then consult with residents to see if they want them. The cost of consultation, the cost of signs and road markings would have to come from the Local Transport Plan fund.”

Coun Bramall said a full proposal for 20mph zones was due to be completed by officers by the end of the financial year in March.

The scheme is backed by environmentalists and cyclists but motorists’ groups have questioned whether it will be effective because no traffic calming or enforcement measures are proposed and the zones will rely on ‘establishing a culture’ among drivers to obey.

Former Sheffield Council leader Coun Paul Scriven, whose Lib Dems opposed city-wide 20mph zones saying it should be left to residents in individual areas to ask for them, accused the council of seeking to take money from road safety projects.

Coun Scriven, who represents Broomhill, said: “This plan shows the economics of the madhouse – that Labour wants to take tens of thousands of pounds from a fund which pays for local road safety schemes to pay for signs for a speed limit it does not plan to enforce.

“This money will be wasted rather than spent on real projects such as in my ward, where we were proposing to spend Local Transport Plan money on providing pedestrian crossings at the junction of Crookes, Whitham Road and Nile Street, in Broomhill.”

Last week The Star revealed a £47,000 scheme outside a park on Loxley Road, Loxley, where there have been nine accidents in the past five years, has been put on hold by the Northern Community Assembly because it does not have sufficient funding. The plan was to provide a pedestrian refuge and cut the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph.