Wirral will see two major updates this week with potentially more 20mph limits rolled out across the borough.
On 4 December, a petition signed by 7,200 people calling for it to reconsider the policy will be presented to all councillors to consider. On 5 December, councillors on Wirral Council’s environment and transport committee will decide whether to proceed with the second roll-out of nearly 1,000 new speed limits.
Wirral Council said it is introducing the new limits as part of wider efforts to get the number of people killed and seriously injured on Wirral’s roads down to zero. However, the policy has come under fire from the local authority’s Conservative councillors who now argue it is a blanket policy and call for a more targeted approach.
The first phase of the roll-out and moving the second phase through to consultation passed through committees and full council unanimously but over the summer, anger grew as new signs appeared on roads around Wirral.
Conservatives have called for the policy to be paused but this was voted down by the other political parties in October. Labour, Liberal Democrats, and the Greens argued the time for review was after limits were introduced and lives would be saved.
A council report said pausing or not implementing any of phase 2 “would be contrary to typical practice” and schemes should be evaluated over six years using before and after data to measure success.
On 5 December, councillors are being asked to consider two options. One is to introduce all the 949 roads included in the roll-out of phase two or ask for a review of all the second phase’s roads with a more targeted approach around schools and accident blackspots.
Going forward, the council will look at some main roads being included in the first phase as well as culs-de-sac, which could potentially change back to 30mph. However, it said: “Failure to undertake the proposed Phase 2 scheme at all would result in a failure to support the Council’s existing corporate goals and objectives” as well as the previously approved Liverpool City Region Combined Authority transport programme.
If it doesn’t move ahead at all with phase two, the council said it may have to reallocate or give money back to the Liverpool City Region.
A consultation held over the summer received 2,226 responses, more than double the first phase’s 919 responses, representing 2.6% of the population where the roads were being put forward. Three petitions have been sent to the council, two objecting to the limits and one in favour of extending the limit on China Farm Lane in Newton.
The consultation found people overwhelmingly objected with only 7% or 163 people in favour. 2063 were against and according to the council, “the objections received for the areas included within Phase 2 were predominantly related to the premise behind the 20mph speed limit scheme as a whole and any 20mph speed limit scheme, regardless of geographical location.”
Alan Jones who submitted the Change.Org petition to the council said he believed the rollout is a blanket policy and called the consultation a farce, adding, “Nobody is against lower speed limits where it’s appropriate. It’s about having a sensible option.”
He added, “That is what my petition asked for. It was not against introducing lower speed limits. The petition was about seeing the evidence first and then discussing it with local people about what is the best idea.
“For instance, in Wallasey going past St Mary’s School it is sensible to have a lower speed limit near a school but over Christmas when the school is closed for two weeks, why on earth have you got a 20mph speed limit 24/7? It doesn’t make sense whatsoever.”