Councils are wasting millions of pounds of 20mph zones which, rather than improving safety, could be causing more deaths – according to The Sun.
Figures obtained by The Sun – via Freedom of Information requests to 20 councils – show that £11m has been spent on implementing 20mph schemes on 1,536 miles of road.
However in some cases collision rates have risen since their introduction, according to The Sun.
In Bath and North East Somerset, the local council spent a total of £804,000 on implementing 20mph limits between 2012 and 2017.
But, according to The Sun, a report published by the council in 2016 revealed the number of killed or seriously injured casualties increased in seven out of the 13 zones where speeds were reduced to 20mph.
The report read: “Casualty severity has worsened marginally in Bath and more so in outlying towns. Again, this is reflective of the national situation.”
The Sun reports that council chiefs later said it would be too expensive to remove the ‘ineffective’ 20mph signs and road markings.
Patrick Anketell-Jones, deputy leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “It has cost over £800,000 to roll out the 20mph zone and it would probably cost the same to reverse them.
“We just haven’t got the money. I’m pretty sure the 20mph zones will stay in place for the foreseeable future.”
In Manchester, The Sun says £1.7m has been spent on a ‘heavily criticised’ scheme dating back to 2012.
According to the newspaper, council bosses later admitted speeds had not changed significantly where the new limit was introduced – and on some roads had actually increased.
In Hampshire, The Sun reports that a county council monitoring group concluded that the 20mph schemes have had ‘no impact in terms of accident or injury’.
Council officers said the number of collisions has also increased in some zones since the speed limits were lowered – adding that in terms of ‘accident and injury data’ the impact of the schemes were ‘neutral and there is no evidence of enhanced road safety benefits’.
In response to the FOI data obtained by The Sun, the AA described the schemes as a ‘waste of money’.
The Sun also points to DfT figures which shows that 80% of drivers fail to comply with 20mph limits – the majority of whom travel at 21-25mph.
In addition, The Sun says ‘cash strapped police forces have also failed to enforce the limits, claiming the work would be a waste of resources’.
In a response posted on its website, the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us describes The Sun report as ‘sloppy journalism based on reports that have been widely de-bunked and critiqued’.
20’s Plenty for Us goes on to say: “Whilst the ‘faster is safer’ message may sell newspapers there is robust evidence that 20mph limits work and are the right speed limit for where pedestrians and cyclists mix with motor vehicles.
“In the city of Bath casualties reduced by 23% on 20mph roads after implementation. Manchester’s report had serious failings and the Hampshire trial was badly planned and badly executed.”