Friday, June 06, 2014

Lewisham Council's official response to 20mph petition

107/365 20s Plenty for Lewisham

I set up a petition a while back asking Lewisham Council to commit to making the whole of the borough a 20mph zone, something which they voted against doing at a full council meeting in November last year.

Before the election Lewisham Labour party included a commitment to making the whole borough 20mph in its manifesto (see page 18).

Now the election is over, and Sir Steve has been resoundingly reelected, I trust the council and its 53 of 54 Labour members will deliver on this pledge. In the meantime, I have had a response from the council which I reproduce below in its entirety:

Dear Clare Griffiths
I write further to the petition that was forwarded on your behalf by Cllr Darren Johnson for consideration of the newly elected Mayor of Lewisham (attached for ease). You may by now be aware that Sir Steve Bullock was re-elected Mayor of Lewisham Council.  I have been asked to respond on the Mayor's behalf.  
Thank your for raising residents' concerns about the speed of road traffic across the borough with us. I have liaised with our Transport division and can now respond.
The Council supports the principle of 20mph zones in residential areas in order to reduce speeds and reduce injuries from road traffic collisions.
Over recent years, the Council has embarked on a programme of new 20mph zones and 66% of the borough's roads now have a 20mph speed restriction.
The programme to date has been implemented in a measured way, and generally new 20mph limits are only introduced where they are supported by the physical measures that are necessary to make the limits self-enforcing.
Signed-only 20mph zones are not practicably enforceable, and the Police do not support their introduction unless appropriate physical measures are in place. Signed-only zones are therefore often ineffective at reducing speeds, creating an unrealistic expectation for enforcement by the Police and the Council.
The Council is committed to reducing accidents in the borough.   In Lewisham the vast majority of traffic collisions resulting in injuries occur on the Transport for London Road Network.  The Council plays a very active role in supporting TfL's road safety strategy, and works collaboratively with TfL to deliver a programme of road safety, education and publicity throughout the Borough, working towards London Road Safety Targets and performance indicators to reduce the number of casualties on the roads in Lewisham.
I hope this is of assistance to you.
Kind regards

Now, this doesn't look very promising to me. I hope it's just a mismatch between what is current council policy and what is likely to be introduced in the coming months. I will be keeping a very close eye on this though, and will be asking about it at the next full council meeting (which incidentally I am told will not be until September!)


The Grim Reaper said...

It strikes me that LB Lewisham are politely informing you that there is no point in bringing in a 20mph limit throughout the borough as the police will not enforce it. (Let us be realistic, they do not enforce the 30mph limit.)

In both Cambridge and the City of London the agreement of the police to enforce a 20mph speed limit was obtained before a 20mph limit was imposed.

Clare said...

I see no sense in being defeatist about it. Some drivers do obey speed limits. Those that don't obey the 30mph limit won't obey the 20mph limit either, but they might go at 32 instead of 42, which would be an improvement.

We have to start somewhere.

Suzanne Miller said...

I agree, Clare. And a consistent, universal 20-mph limit on all but A roads would be not only less lethal but also less confusing to remember/respect and easier to enforce. And even though doing 35 or 40 mph is a necessary part of some people's lifestyle, that's so much more flagrant in a 20-mph zone that police might be persuaded to do their duty. Success in this initiative could provide a model for neighbouring boroughs (and hence even less confusion). Good luck.

Sue Luxton said...

This seems like they haven't budged an inch from their position of a decade or so ago. Very depressing. It also sounds like it was written by a highways officer, not a politician. I think a response from Lewisham Labour, given their manifesto pledge, is required!

The Grim Reaper said...

Clare: True
Suzanne: I absolutely agree with "a consistent, universal 20-mph limit on all but A roads", but the idea "that [the Metropolitan] police might be persuaded to do their duty." is somewhat fanciful. The Metropolitan Police are ideologically opposed to the concept of speed limits and will not enforce them.
Sue: True.

David Lyons said...

Good luck Clare.
It looks like you will need to put political pressure on Labour. It seems yet another example of them doing the opposite of what the promise.
David Lyons

20's Plenty for Us said...

The police are idealogically opposed to almost every new law that is brought in by society. Its not just limited to traffic law.

Whilst there are some societal benefits from not having a police forces that responds immediately to every cultural change, it is necessary for such changes to be recognised and police practices developed to meet that change.

Unfortunately the Met are so out of touch with community culture and needs on speed enforcement that they have risk losing all credibility as being "part of the solution" to create a civilised sharing of the public spaces between building that we call streets, and instead are "part of the problem".

With revisions in the ability to enforce 20mph with speed awareness course which have only just come on stream then there can be no excuse of "administrative costs" as a reason for not enforcing 20mph limits. Other forces around the country are enforcing 20mph limits and it is a disgrace that in our capital city there is such a "laissez-faire" attitude from the Met.

And that is why political, moral and community pressure needs to be put on the Met to use the powers it has been given and in support of the communities which finance them.

Unknown said...

Looking at Lewisham Central where I live, the approach to reducing traffic speeds is the bare minimum and very old school - road humps and some signs, not really enough to inspire confidence that Lewisham Council is serious about reducing traffic collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. Too much road space is given over to drivers - wide carriageways encourage speedier traffic. I am a bit confused by the Council’s response - do the minimal measures that have been put in place mean that the police are willing to enforce the 20mph speed restriction to make it a speed limit? When we decide to use the healthier option of walking or cycling rather than driving or using the bus service, the Council should be supporting us and not stepping back and suggesting that there is very little that can be done to significantly reduce drivers driving too fast on our streets. This message and approach from the Council is putting our lives, health and quality of life at risk.

Clare said...

Sir Steve included the commitment to default 20mph in his AGM speech on Wednesday evening:

This is good news.

I will put in questions to the next full council meeting to ask about timing of the work needed to make this happen.