Over many years the campaign in Chester has been making the case for 20mph limits for residential and busy streets. Now Cheshire West and Chester Council have adopted a 20mph policy which is being rolled out. Here, local campaign leader Wyn Holroyd chronicles the progress made.
The campaign began in 2007 due to rumours of a former army camp near a residential area of Chester becoming 1000 new houses without attention to the road impact; an appraisal of the road conditions – speed, volume of traffic, congestion, pollution etc.- through which my grandchildren and other children journey to school.
The detailed appraisal of road shortcomings, plus solutions like calming measures was summarily rejected by the local authority due to not enough crashes and average speed (as measured by a totally useless method) in the low twenties!
Our 20s Plenty group is 3- 4 people. We suffered an enormous blow with the sudden death of Cllr David Robinson in 2014.
Campaigning strategies have included:-
- Speaking at Local Community Forums/ Parish councils.
- Addressing full Council many times, placing 20’s Plenty literature on all seats in the Chamber, sometimes spicing up the message with a limerick/poem
- Emailing full Council and Officers regularly.
- Speaking to Women’s Institutes and at School Assemblies – 5 to 10 mins. interaction, thinking about “speed”, good and bad, journey to school and back. Encouraging schools to engage with their Local Councillor/ Council over pupils’ journeys door to door and safety.
- Cathey Harrington and I have produced a fetching line in tabards, using 20’s Plenty bin stickers, when staging info. days in town centre, shopping precincts etc.
- Letters to the press over many years.
- In recent years, we have arranged meetings with Public Health Officers,
- Invited the local paper to run an on-line question on the 20mph default.
- Finding a suitable willing youngster to address Council committees e.g. Cabinet ,Scrutiny about his/her journey to school/college, i.e. how it could/ should be improved with a different, more civilized traffic regime, emphasising the right to learn independence/ exercise etc.
In 2011 we organized a paper petition- the easiest to collect signatures that I have ever undertaken – accompanied by an on-line one. It was presented to full Council but was neither accepted or rejected as the majority Conservative group were hurriedly concocting a scheme to fit with the “localism” mantra. This scheme turned out to be wholly unrealistic, costly and unworkable. As Cllr Robinson, our staunch ally on the Council said with his amiable grin, “You don’t want to do anything, do you?” – and they didn’t. Tragically, David did not live to see his party’s change of fortune in last year’s May elections when a Labour led Council was narrowly returned. Crucially, the 20mph default was in the Labour Manifesto and no time was lost in costing and preparing its implementation over 4 years throughout Cheshire West and Cheshire.
We were helped by the expertise of Rod King, in person, at crucial Cabinet and Scrutiny meetings early in 2016 and by his and Anna Semlyen’s unfailing help and inspiration throughout. We cannot sit back, because this policy refers solely to “residential” roads. We shall still have to push for “Total 20”.
In conclusion, we refer you to Rod and Anna’s emphasis on dogged persistence.... and then hope for a visit from Lady Luck! We could not have imagined being in this position a year ago!