Norwich 20mph speed limit plans scuppered?

Kim BriscoeA long-running campaign to introduce a blanket 20mph limit in Norwich's residential streets could be scuppered by its �550,000 cost.Kim Briscoe

A long-running campaign to introduce a blanket 20mph limit in Norwich's residential streets could be scuppered by its �550,000 cost.

The city's budget for traffic management is just �230,000, so if the 20mph zones are adopted, it would take three years to finance and during this time no pedestrian crossings or other traffic management scemes could be undertaken.

Now highways officers are advising councillors to scrap the scheme, which would require an estimated 3,500 road signs, and instead focus on introducing better cycle routes and crossing points, which is likely in turn to reduce vehicle speeds.

Norwich's Liberal Democrats first mooted the 20mph idea more than three years ago, and three areas - Newmarket Street and Vauxhall Street area, Borrowdale Drive and Marl Pit Lane - were picked for a trial.

The results showed speeds in Borrowdale Drive have been reduced slightly by up to one mph, but there was little impact on the traffic speeds around the other two pilot areas, which were already generally compliant with 20mph.

Now a report, drawn up by transport officers, says that just 17.2pc of accidents leading to injuries happened on unclassified residential roads in Norwich in the three years to February 2010.

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During the same period 82.8pc of the accidents happened on class A, B and C roads, with five out of the six fatal accidents taking place on A class roads.

Members of the Norwich joint highways agency committee (NHAC) will meet on Thursday, May 27, to make a decision on how to reduce speeds in the city.

Although the final decision on which scheme to adopt rests with elected councillors, the report is recommending that a comprehensive study of speed management of the entire city and targeted measure on the most dangerous roads would be more beneficial than city-wide 20mph speed zones.

Norwich City Councillor Judith Lubbock, who is the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for transport, said she wanted to see the limits introduced city-wide over a four-year period to encourage more people to walk and cycle.

She said: 'I hope this proposal receives cross party support which has been the case up until now.

'This is an exciting time for the city, a chance for the council to show that it takes 'transition to a low carbon economy' seriously. We all need to think about walking and cycling more to improve our physical and mental wellbeing.'

Brian Morrey, a member of Norwich City Council's Labour executive, said he would be in favour of phasing in 20mph limits, but felt that it would be more beneficial to introduce speed measures on faster roads.

He said: 'We need to look at the A, B and C roads because that's where most of the problems are.

'The unclassified roads where they were looking at the speed limits are not really where the accidents are and the cost of introducing the 20mph limits is just horrendous and without any real justification.'

Rupert Read, transport spokesman for Norwich Green Party, said he was in support of the 20mph scheme but recognised the current financial constraints facing both Norwich City and Norfolk County Councils.

He said: 'I'm still hopfeul that sooner or later we will bring in 20mph speed limits but we need to think very carefully about doing it and how we do it over a period of time.'

The committee meeting will take place at 10am at City Hall.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email