How to Persuade Your Council to Update its 20mph Policy

If your council’s policy doesn’t yet support wide area 20mph signed limits, then an update to align it with public health best practice is needed. How? Tactics include calling for a best practice update to the Cabinet Member for Transport, Leader, Director of Public Health, scrutiny or in manifestos.

20’s Plenty say first collect petition names for wide area, signed 20mph limits to demonstrate community support. Online and paper petitions can combine.  Petitions go to council meetings.  Officers then advise elected councillors based on existing written policy.  Campaigners who face officers quoting an antiquated 20mph policy have little to gain arguing with them. Go higher. Ask elected politicians to modernise the policy to fit with World Health Organisation, Public Health England, NICE and, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health best practice Justify it based on what’s changed since policy was written - eg speed limiters will be fitted to all new cars from 2022. This enforces limits in car largely making engineering unnecessary. Make your calls in this campaigning order:Ask the:

  1. Transport cabinet member for wide area 20mph – they control transport spending locally. Yes - job done
  2. Council leader – who decides on cabinet member posts and so has ultimate power over all decisions. Yes - job done. They can overrule or reshuffle a cabinet member who doesn’t agree with them. The cabinet member will probably change their mind and agree rather than go against their direct boss’s wishes.
  3. (unelected) Director of Public Health – who has a ring fenced budget for health improvement and can offer funds to the transport cabinet member to jointly do 20mph. Collaborative funding can nudge the cabinet member into at least doing a PH funded pilot of 20mph (we’d prefer wide area commitment, but it’s a start).
  4. Scrutiny to agree a 20mph scrutiny topic. Back bench councillors without budget power can research (a few topics a year). Campaigners are wise to lobby a supportive councillor on that committee to submit the topic and email/ring everyone with a vote to choose 20mph to research. Note that scrutiny recommendations can be overruled by the cabinet though! Our oven ready scrutiny brief is
  5. Manifesto suggestion committee for the ruling party (or any party likely to share power locally). Being a party member admits you to meetings. Submit to your local branch a motion supporting wide area 20mph limits eg this party supports wide area 20mph limits. Take it to a vote to submit it as a policy suggestion to the party central decision making meeting for manifesto promises. The phase of the electoral cycle matters here. This tactic wins a mandate for change if elections are approaching and that party wins enough seats.

To discuss tactics on how to update policy please email [email protected] or ring 07572 120439. Anna’s a former City of York Councillor and Transport Scrutiny chair.

Why not attend, or ask councillors to come to our national conference on 31st Oct to update their knowledge too? We have international, national and local speakers. See

Anna Semlyen, 20’s Plenty for Us National Campaign Manager says :-

“Believe you can make powerful people listen to calls for an urgent 20mph policy update. Together we can make change happen. It’s only by standing up for 20mph limits that they get on political agendas.  Political activism works.”

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