Councillors are elected people with powers to set road speed limits locally. They are busy and do not have expertise on transport, public health or duty of care, so often take officer advice. Ensuring they make informed decisions is key. Activists can aim to feed Councillors ‘oven ready’, easy to digest, evidence of popular support for 20mph. Bullet point facts and myth busting by email and phone before the vote is how to ensure a YES!
Councillors are very short of time. Many work full time, have families and must attend committee meetings, do ward based case work (e.g. for residents), party work (e.g. newsletters, canvas, media work etc.) and they volunteer too (e.g. School Governor). Most are too busy to read detailed Council meeting agenda papers. They rely on advice from officers (Council employees). Problems particularly arise for campaigners when officers aim to ‘manage expectations’, e.g. when officers perceive each 20mph limit as a separate scheme which is an effort to scope, cost and install. Or when that Council’s policies to date haven’t favored wide area 20mph limits. It can be easier for officers to recommend a no! We advise campaigners to:
1) Demonstrate popular support for 20mph limits – e.g. with petition signatures (number of names depends on populations). Also ask permission to use the logos of supporting organisations on campaign materials.
2) Get friendly with the people with most power – e.g. Parish or Council Leader (elected Leader of the Ruling Political Group), Cabinet Member for Transport/Chair of the Local Transport Committee, Public Health Director and Police and Crime Commissioner. For instance, invite them to come to your streets and walk them with you, invite them to public meetings on 20mph limits. Ask their priorities and educate them on how 20mph limits help.
3) Persuade a friendly councillor to submit the petition to a relevant committee for discussion – e.g. maybe first a petitions committee before being on the agenda of a transport, scrutiny or full council meeting.
4) Get a list of the email and phone numbers of the Councillor committee members of the relevant meeting.
5) Read and analyse the agenda papers and officer comments as soon as published (usually 10-14 days before the meeting). If officers say no aim to critique their reasons in detail. Ask 20’s Plenty for Us for support!
6) Email Councillors about a week before with why they should vote yes for 20mph limits, even if officers say no. Bullet point facts work. The points must