Second phase of 20mph rollout expected to be approved

Wirral Council is expected to make a decision in December about how to proceed with making Wirral’s roads safer by expanding the areas covered by 20mph limits.

With five deaths on Wirral’s roads last year, the policy is part of a wider strategy to get road deaths down to zero.

The local authority is currently in the second stage of rolling out 20mph limits in residential areas across Wirral. Two further phases are expected at a later stage with the different areas outlining the roads where the limits would go.

A consultation was carried out earlier this year on the nearly 1,000 roads the council is proposing will become 20mph as part of the second stage. The consultation will then go on to inform what roads will be made 20mph in the second stage of the rollout if councillors approve the move.

This move is expected to be approved as Labour, Green, and Liberal Democrat councillors have all so far supported the rollout. They have pointed to the policy’s potential to save lives as well as the financial costs associated with collisions when arguing in favour.

In Cheshire, analysis of the four-year rollout by Cheshire West and Chester Council showed a 24% reduction in people killed or seriously injured, a 43% reduction in collisions, and a 46% reduction in slight injuries.

According to the Department for Transport, the cost of a fatal collision is over £2m taking into account the cost of damage, medical costs, lost economic output, and costs related to pain, grief and suffering.

The second stage of the rollout is currently scheduled to come to the council’s environment and transport committee meeting on 5 December.

However, Conservatives are now calling for a review of the policy and for the council to pause all activity on the second phase. A motion has been put forward by Conservative leader Cllr Jeff Green at a full council meeting on 9 October for all councillors to debate.

The motion calls for a review of “the all-encompassing criteria of ‘all residential areas’” and consider “whether a further consultation and scheme amendment is required” on the first phase.

Cllr Green also pointed to figures highlighting how slower speeds can save lives. At 40mph, there is a 90% chance a pedestrian will be killed. At 30mph, this is 20% and at 20mph it is 2.5%.

He added, “Council believes that pedestrians have a shared responsibility with motorists and all other road users for road safety and should take measures to protect their own safety, including using the road safety measures put in place by the Council and following the updated Highway Code.”

The motion, being debated by councillors on 9 October, also raised concerns about the lack of engagement over the first consultation calling for a review of “the Council’s consultation timings, approach and mechanisms as a matter of urgency.”

At the environment committee meeting on 30 January, concerns had been raised by Conservatives about the lack of engagement with the first phase consultation that only saw 728 responses.

Cllr Ian Lewis said the lack of engagement was “so disappointing,” adding, “I just wonder whether we need to learn from that if there are further proposals for other areas of the borough and perhaps do a bit more intensive engagement to make people aware of it.

“I think where people are aware of it, where they have traffic concerns, a lot of people would welcome this.”

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