Inside the Council: Your views on speeding issues

Councillor Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) and Howard Blagbrough
Councillor Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) and Howard Blagbrough

Over the last few weeks we have had numerous people talking about the need, or not, for 20mph limits on our roads. It is important, therefore, that we look at the facts and reflect the feelings of local people.

The Conservative Group on Calderdale Council began looking at the subject earlier this year. Road safety is the single biggest issue raised by our constituents. It is important, therefore, that we get it right.

For any road safety measure to be successful it needs to satisfy several criteria:

1. It needs to be simple and consistent so that local residents and road users understand its relevance.

2. It needs to have universal acceptance with both those groups if it is to be effective

3. It needs to be self policing, in other words drivers need to respect the limit imposed.

20mph limits around all schools seemed to be the most likely scheme to achieve all three of these criteria. So we asked the public for their views through a simple survey.

Over 16,000 survey forms have been delivered to houses across Calderdale with the response now in to the thousands. We thank everyone who has taken the time to tell us what they think. It is important that we listen to your views.

Across Calderdale as a whole over 95 per cent support the principle of 20mph limits around our schools, whilst support for 20mph limits across whole neighbourhoods is only 53 per cent. Here in the local areas of Brighouse, Hove Edge, Clifton, Rastrick, Bailiff Bridge support for limits around schools is in the mid to high 90 per cent area whilst limits across neighbourhoods is consistently below 50 per cent.

Your views seem to suggest that 20mph limits around schools will be most likely to be effective.

With the best will in the world our local police force cannot patrol all our streets 24/7. Self policing, in other words, motorists respecting the speed limits put in place, is an important factor in a scheme’s effectiveness.

Certain neighbourhoods in Calderdale may feel the necessity to have these limits throughout their area, and I respect their right to say so, but as a scheme for all of Calderdale the figures suggest it will not achieve its aim.

Wrong time for parking fee hike

The recent U-turn by Labour over their implementation of new and increased parking charges across Calderdale is welcome, although belated, news.

These charges will eventually come in to force.

Labour’s reasoning for the delay, citing the need to support small local businesses through the recession, beggar’s belief.

When Labour proposed the new and increased parking charges as part of their ‘Income Generation’ strategy, Conservatives across Calderdale opposed the move. Why? Because we could see the damaging effect these charges could have; deterring shoppers from visiting our town and village centres, such as Brighouse and Hipperholme; cutting the numbers spending money in our local shops. This was not the right strategy in these difficult times.

If the numbers visiting our towns and villages went down and less was spent in our shops and businesses it would be the small, local, independent business that would take a disproportionate hit. That was something we did not want to see as they are the lifeblood of our communities.

The Conservative led government is proposing to cut up to £2,000 from the NI tax bill of small businesses. That is the way to help them recover from a recession.

We are pleased that Labour in Calderdale has finally seen the light and we Conservatives will continue to argue the case for supporting our local businesses and communities.

By Councillor Scott Benton