Conservatives running Surrey County Council dismissed calls by the Lib Dems to roll out 20 mph zones in residential roads and outside schools across Surrey at yesterday's Full Council meeting.
Surrey Lib Dems put forward a motion calling for a bigger and bolder programme of schemes to implement 20 mph zones using signs only, in a bid to facilitate better conditions for walking and cycling; improve road safety; tackle climate change and to allow residents to enjoy the resulting wider health benefits.
The proposals were voted down by the Tory administration who blocked the motion with the argument that the current approach was the best approach, and nothing needed to change.
Members supporting the motion cautioned that Surrey ran the risk of being left behind by neighbouring authorities who had already taken the step of implementing similar 'signs only' schemes. Instead, the Tories want controversial and expensive traffic calming measures such as speed humps, to be installed in many potential 20 mph zones.
Following the occasionally heated debate the Surrey Lib Dems spokesman on climate change Lance Spencer (Goldsworth East and Horsell Village) said:
"It was disappointing that the Tory group saw fit to counter our motion with such a negative amendment, when I have spoken to some Conservative Members who have privately expressed support for this sort of scheme to be introduced in communities where there is local support. I made the climate change argument on the basis it would reduce vehicle emissions, but this was not even acknowledged by the Tory administration. This would be a really good starting point for having those difficult conversations with residents about the sort of changes we will all have to make on an individual level to combat the climate crisis."
In her speech Angela Goodwin (Guildford South-West), who seconded the motion, emphasised the wider road safety and health benefits of 20mph zones. She was also disappointed by the response of the current administration. "Those councillors who have today supported this Lib Dem motion are representing the wishes of many in their communities who recognise the wide-ranging benefits of these proposals. There is a lot of evidence - such as the recent Scottish Borders 20mph pilot schemes - which demonstrate that, with the right engagement and communication with residents, signage only 20mph zones can work. I had hoped that at the very least Surrey County Council would consider - and separately fund - a selection of signage only 20mph pilot zones with residents without speed tests and traffic calming measures, but it appears that we'll have to wait a little longer for this!"