Sunday, 9 October 2011

20mph in the Kent on Sunday

From page 6 today's Kent on Sunday:

Strong recommendations were made in the European Parliament last week for an EU-wide urban speed limit of 20mph.
Although the support lacks the force of law, recommendations made in the European Parliament can be influential in shaping policy within governments on a national and local level.
But the move has sparked a clash between the Green Party and Conservative members in Kent.
Maidstone Green Party, which has been pushing for a drop in speed around schools, celebrated the EU support, stating there was now no excuse for residential roads to remain at 30mph.
“Councillors need to seize this opportunity to make life better for all,” said spokesman Stuart Jeffery.
In August, highways chiefs at Kent County Council announced they would be trialling a 20mph speed limit involving six primary schools in Maidstone early next year in a bid to improve road safety.
Mr Jeffery said: “The council is dipping its toe into 20mph zones outside schools, which is a step in the right direction, but the weight of opinion must now quickly take them to making all of our streets safer.
“The vast majority of residents would feel and be safer with cars coming past their houses at 20mph instead of 30mph.”
Green MEP for the south east Keith Taylor added: “This limit would ensure drivers have to respect the same road rules no matter where they drive, making it easier for drivers and safer for all those on or near our roads.”
But while the Greens were celebrating, Tory MEPs condemned the recommendations.
They claimed it was an example of EU “meddling”.
Daniel Hannan, who represents the south east, including Kent, in Brussels, said the proposal was another example of Europe trying to dictate to Britain on issues that should be decided locally.
“Of course speed limits as low as 20mph or so can be right in some very specific areas, especially near schools or nurseries, but every location is different and these decisions need to be made case by case. Not by a Europe-wide edict.”
A potential change to motorway speed has also been discussed this week, with transport secretary Philip Hammond confirming plans to consult on raising the limit to 80mph.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference this week, he said the current 70mph limit had become “discredited” and failed to keep pace with advances in motoring.
But Maidstone Green Party’s Mr Jeffery said local members would campaign against the proposed rise.
“Fuel costs and CO2 emissions will increase significantly, as will accidents and air pollution,” he said.
“The M20 corridor already suffers with bad air quality - an 80mph limit would simply make this worse.”

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