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Campaign for 20mph Watford backed by politicians
A campaign to drop speed limits across Watford to 20mph has found unanimous backing among the borough’s politicians.
At meeting of the full council on Wednesday councillors lent full-throated support to the 20’s Plenty campaign and voted to take up the case with county highways bosses.
The Liberal Democrats and Green Party councillors jointly sponsored a motion saying the council will now push for the speed limit to be cut to 20mph in all "non-major" residential roads in the town.
The motion argued the move would bring a host of benefits to the town such as reducing accidents, encouraging walking and reducing emissions.
It also said that reducing the average speed from 30mph to 20mph would only increase a 15-minute journey through affected roads by one minute.
Liberal Democrat councillor Iain Sharpe put the motion to the council at yesterday’s meeting saying it aimed to change the driving culture in Watford.
He said one of the barriers to creating smaller 20mph zones was the current requirement for expensive traffic calming measures like speed humps to make them self-enforcing.
Councillor Sharpe argued a blanket zone for residential roads would simply require the changing of signs.
"We are not talking about changing the physical environment," he said, "but the climate of what people think is an appropriate speed to drive at.
"Any Jeremy Clarkson fans among us can object and point to the declining number of fatalities on the on the roads. But it is among the drivers and occupants of cars as they have safety measures such as air bags, not the poor pedestrians."
The leader of the Green Party group, Councillor Steve Rackett, seconded the motion saying: "I would like to see all parties support this and for us go to county with a united stand to persuade their portfolio holder."
The move was backed by Labour, with Councillor Asif Khan saying he had friends who had lost a young child in a road accident.
He added: "It shows our intention that things like this do not happen on our roads, that’s why we support this motion."
The Conservative group on the council also pledged their support to the motion.
Following the cross-party backing for the 20mph zone, Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, said the council had to show resolve in pushing for the policy.
She said she anticipated a negative reaction to the proposal from some quarters of the town and urged politicians to make a convincing case to residents for the speed limit cut.
"If we don’t take people with us there will be a backlash," she said.
The motion was passed with an overwhelming vote of support meaning Mayor Thornhill will ask Hertfordshire County Council, which oversees highways policy, to undertake a feasibility study for the project.