20mph limit plans shelved

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SENIOR councillors say there is no way they could go-ahead with proposals to introduce a town-wide 20mph speed limit in residential areas after a “disappointing” response to a consultation.

Just 62 people responded to an extensive consultation exercise by Hartlepool Borough Council, with the majority of people being against the plans.

Members of the council’s cabinet committee agreed not to introduce a town-wide scheme at a meeting yesterday.

But if residents do come forward with requests for 20mph zones in specific areas of town then they will be considered.

Currently, there are only a limited number of roads in Hartlepool with a 20mph limit and those are mainly outside schools.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said he had concerns that a town-wide scheme would have been “unmanageable”, but said he was fully behind plans to slash speed limits outside all schools in town.

He added: “If there is groups of residents that come forward then we will consider each case on its individual merits.”

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, said: “The level of responses makes it absolutely clear that we can’t implement it on the basis of the consultation.

“We cannot impose something on people or communities that they do not want.

“The appetite is not there.”

He added: “It is clear that the town is either uninterested or against it.”

Fellow Labour councillor, Ged Hall, who also represents Burn Valley, said: “The response from the consultation is disappointing.”

Independent councillor Cath Hill, who represents the Seaton ward, added: “It is disappointing but that is democracy.”

Of the 62 people that responded, 18 people specifically wanted the scheme to include Warrior Drive, in Seaton Carew, 35 were against the introduction of a town-wide scheme altogether, while the other nine were in favour.

The consultation – which involved public meetings and consultation with taxi drivers and driving instructors – was launched after the council’s neighbourhood services scrutiny forum backed the idea earlier this year.

The programme, known as 20’s Plenty, has been used in a number of towns and cities across the country to improve road safety, and is more focused on changing behaviour, rather than introducing physical traffic calming measures.

If the proposals had been backed then main roads in town would have stayed at their existing speed limits but the majority of residential estates would have become 20mph zones.

It was planned to roll out the programme over three years at a cost of £150,000.