Scrutiny Committee of 20mph in Croydon

Last night Croydon Council held a Scrutiny Committee to review the councils decision to go ahead with a wide area, signed only, 20mph scheme in North Croydon. It had been requested by 14 Conservative councillors who were concerned about the cost. You can see a video recording of the event here:

I spoke to support the “call in” and in opposition to the proposal. To save you wading through the whole video, here is what I said:

Objections to a Wide Area 20 Mph Scheme for North Croydon – Scutiny Committee Speech

I understand the call-in has taken place because of concerns about the cost of the proposed 20 mph wide area scheme in North Croydon. At a cost of £300,000 it is certainly likely to be a waste of money.

The main arguments for 20 mph schemes have always relied on the benefits to road safety. In other words that accidents and injuries will be reduced. But this is a mirage and is not borne out by the evidence available to date. Claims for such benefits are wrong and that is why the Department of Transport has commissioned more research into this topic. The latest part of London to introduce a wide area 20 mph scheme was the City of London and the initial evidence there is that injury accidents rose afterwards.

The other claims such as “improving liveability” are basically just hot air with no substance in reality. Introducing a 20 mph speed limit does not encourage more people to walk or cycle – there is simply no evidence for this.

So in reality nothing much will change but you want to spend £300,000 of taxpayers money on just one part of Croydon to prove how pointless it will be. If you have £300,000 to spend on road safety it would be much better spent on other road safety initiatives, or point solutions.

It is most regrettable that these proposals have been put forward by those ignorant of the facts, and supported by a rigged public consultation exercise.

That is all I wish to say, but I hope Councillors will see sense on this matter and not pour £300,000s of taxpayers money down the drain.

Neither I nor local resident Peter Morgan who also spoke were given the opportunity to challenge many of the erroneous comments and “facts” presented by the supporters of this proposal, and none of members of the Scrutiny Committee apart from Conservative Councillors on the Committee (who spoke well incidentally in a reasoned and measured way, unlike some of their Labour opponents) took up any of the points I made or asked for more information. They prefer their own blinkered view of the wonders of such schemes rather than the facts – rather like adherents to a religion who will believe anything even though the facts undermine their beliefs.

One point not brought out though was that only residents within North Croydon were consulted (any responses from outside the area were ignored, so the views of those who drive through the area on the roads were sidelined).

As expected the motion to “call in” the proposal was rejected so the scheme will go ahead in North Croydon. Whether they will be able to push it through for other parts of Croydon, particularly if they see the results in the North Croydon first, remains to be seen.

Roger Lawson

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