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Tories stage U-turn on speed limits to join the Lib Dems

April 23, 2009 9:56 AM
Kilian Bourke

Cllr Kilian Bourke

County Tories have staged a dramatic U-turn on Cambridge speed limits, giving their full backing to a policy championed by the County's Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives have announced that speed limits on central city roads will be cut to 20mph - a move which Lib Dems have been fighting for since last year.

Petersfield County Councillor Nichola Harrison congratulated the Tories on coming to their senses.

She said: "It is great that the Conservatives have finally come around to our way of thinking on this.

"I commend them for having the courage to adopt our policies; but if only they had listened to us a year ago the resources wasted on this wrong-headed policy might have been avoided in the first place."

Originally Tories on Cambridgeshire County Council wanted 20mph speed limits introduced only on roads where the average speed was already below 20mph. This directly contradicted central government guidance, which supported the introduction of 20mph speed limits on roads where the mean speed is 24mph or less.

When the Conservative Cabinet announced this decision in April 2008 the Liberal Democrats immediately called it in for scrutiny arguing that 20 per cent of accidents on 30mph roads are fatal compared to extremely few serious injuries being reported where the speed limit is 20mph.

But Conservative Cabinet Member Matt Bradney recklessly ignored these arguments.

Romsey County Cllr Kilian Bourke said: "It is interesting to hear Cllr Bradney taking credit for making our roads safer, when he is in fact reversing a policy he introduced last year, which made those same roads more dangerous."

"The U-turn manoeuvre has rarely been more perfectly executed. This is real textbook stuff."

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have also welcomed the news that a Portsmouth-type 20mph zone is to be created within Cambridge City Centre, but claim that by restricting it to the centre the county council has "missed the point".

County Cllr Rupert Moss-Eccardt said: "The whole point of the Portsmouth Scheme was to reduce speeds in dense residential areas. It is areas like Arbury and Mill Road which urgently need these limits."

Ely County Cllr Nigel Bell is pressing for the scheme to be implemented in Ely.

He said: "As Ely has already adopted provisions for a Portsmouth-style blanket 20mph limit in its Transport Strategy, it is a natural choice for a Market Town pilot scheme in Cambridgeshire."