Surrey becomes latest English council to follow Wales with 20mph speed limit pilot
Road safety campaigners across England are increasingly pressing for 20 mph to be introduced as the default limit, as Surrey County Council has become the latest local authority to pilot the introduction of 20mph speed limits.
The Conservative controlled council could cut speed limits from 60mph to 20mph under plans to tackle dangerous driving in rural areas.
Last month Wales became the first UK nation to introduce a default limit of 20mph, with local authorities able to engage with the local community to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.
Surrey Council is to pilot new 20mph and 30mph restrictions across roughly 80 square miles south of the A25 between Guildford and Dorking.
Duncan Knox, the council official in charge of the project, has reportedly said that West Sussex had also expressed an interest in the scheme and others were expected to follow them.
More than 20 English local authorities now have a policy that 20mph should be the standard for residential streets.
Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham, Newcastle and much of London have already adopted the lower limit.
The introduction of the 20 mph limit in Wales has been criticised by Conservative politicians and commentators.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said that the move showed that Labour were “slowing Wales down”.
“Local people know their roads best. They should have a say on speed limits,” he added.
Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Ashgar MS, said the plans were “frankly ludicrous”.
Daily Telegraph columnist Ross Clark also weighed in, describing the change as “an anti-car measures” and accused First Minister Mark Drakeford of “virtue signalling”.
“What Drakeford is pursuing is a kind of environmental populism, which works on the principle that anything anti-car will impress green-minded voters. But it is no way to run a country,” he said.
The new normal
Phil Jones, a transport planning consultant who led the Wales 20mph taskforce, told the Independent the lower speed limit is “already becoming the new normal,”.
“To some extent, the Westminster government is actually behind on this, but it’s important they catch up so we get consistency across the UK as a whole,” he added
Following the vote in the Senedd approving the change in Wales, Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said that she was “delighted” that the vote passed with the help of Plaid Cymru.
“We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag charges and organ donation,” she said.
“The evidence is clear, decreasing speeds not only reduces accidents and saves lives, but helps improve people’s quality of life – making our streets and communities a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, whilst helping reduce our environmental impact.
“Once again Wales is leading the way for other UK nations to follow.”
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