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County council rejects 20's Plenty campaign
Hopes of turning Watford into a 20mph town have been dashed after county transport bosses have rejected the idea.
A senior Conservative politician at Hertfordshire County Council has said a blanket 20mph scheme is not appropriate for the town and only small zones will be considered.
The news comes after a concerted effort from politicians in Watford over the last six months to have the speed limit cut on all non-major routes.
Following the statement from county hall, Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, she did not hold out much hope for the scheme.
She said: "I don’t think we are going to get any change out of county. The conversations I have been involved with have led me to believe they are not going to change their minds."
Mayor Thornhill added she hoped possible changes in speed limit legislation could further the cause of a 20mph Watford in the future.
Efforts to reduce the speed limit in the town were galvanised after all four political parties on Watford Borough Council voted unanimously to back the 20’s Plenty scheme in March.
At the time the councillors said cutting the speed limit would bring benefits to the town, including reducing serious car accidents, encouraging people to walk and reducing emissions.
The result was that Mayor Thornhill, a Liberal Democrat, wrote to Hertfordshire County Council, which controls roads, making the case for the scheme and asking them to look into it.
Yet early signals from the Conservative administration at county hall did not bode well for the 20mph scheme, with the leader of the council, Robert Gordon, expressing doubts about its practicality.
This week Phil Bibby, the county council’s deputy cabinet member for highways and transport, said the administration would only consider 20mph zones in certain areas of Watford, not a town-wide initiative.
He said: "The county council wants 20mph speed limits in place in appropriate locations in the county, but we do not believe that it would be appropriate to introduce a town-wide limit in Watford. "We are implementing 20mph limits and zones in some areas of the town, such as in Park Avenue, which is already up and running, and in roads west of St Albans Road, scheduled for later this year."
"Furthermore, we are investigating the feasibility of a 20mph limit in the Market Street area."
Councillor Bibby added the council would not be considering any changes in its policy until the government concluded its review nation-wide speed limits, which is expected in 2014.
Following the announcement Mayor Thornhill said hopes to make Watford a 20mph town would only be resurrected if people in the town got behind the scheme.
She said: "I think if this is something people really want for Watford then they have to get behind it, support it and campaign."