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20mph zones to improve road safety across district

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 22, 2012

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A scheme to turn residential areas across Bath and North East Somerset into 20mph zones will be launched later this month.

The initiative, which will start in Bath on September 24, is designed to make roads safer and encourage motorists to think more carefully about their driving.

It will be rolled out across the district over the next 15 months.

Councillor Roger Symonds, cabinet member for transport, said the new speed limits would not be enforced by the police, but would force motorists to think more carefully about their driving in areas where there were a lot of pedestrians.

Mr Symonds said: "We are trying to engender a change of culture, where people take notice. As long as we get a reduction in speed, as far as I am concerned that is a good thing.

"This means we reduce the number of accidents and also the severity of accidents. That is really what is behind this. We are trying to give the streets back to the people."

Peasedown St John is the next scheduled area to be a 20mph scheme, after residents took part in a consultation.

The council delivered 2,800 leaflets to homes and received 615 back with 61.4 per cent of returns supporting the proposal, 4.3 offering no opinion, and 32.1 against.

It will be considered in Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Westfield during November.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the planning, transport and environment policy development and scrutiny panel, where it was agreed that most communities would be supportive of the introduction of 20mph zones in their neighbourhood, but there was concern whether it would actually make a difference to road safety.

Councillor Brian Webber (Con, Abbey) said: "I am all in favour of road safety, but we should be doing it in the way that is most effective and I'm not sure the evidence is there for a blanket 20mph limit."

The panel also heard that the council had allocated £500,000 to pay for the scheme, although it was not clear yet whether this would be enough to see the initiative through to the end.

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