Liberal Democrat Motion Proposing Highway Policy Changes to Introduce More Flexibility into Setting up 20mph Zones - Passed with All-Party Support

Northchurch TrafficShortly before the last Hertfordshire County Council Meeting (27th March, 2018) Nick Hollinghurst, the Liberal Democat County Councillor for Tring met some of the Go 20 Northchurch Group to discuss their petition to the County Council for a 20mph Zone and other safety improvements in Northchurch.The Group pointed out a section in the existing policy where, with a small change to the wording, a useful increase in flexibility could be brought in to enable 20mph Zones to be considered for A and B roads in rural areas.

Subsequent talks with HCC highway officers confirmed that the need for the 20mph Zone to include the A4251 meant that the Northchurch proposals would not be covered by current county policy and so officers could not recommend it as things stood. However they would not oppose any proposal to change current policy so that rural areas could be covered by the admission of exceptional circumstances just as urban areas already were.

Nick Hollinghurst then seized the opportunity presented by the presentation of the petition to table a motion to the Council requesting a review of the existing Speed Management Strategy with a view to making that policy change.

The following motion to the Council was then proposed by Cllr Nick Hollinghurst - with the Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst seconding - which read as follows.

"That the Executive Member be requested to:

(a) take into account:
the high traffic flow in both directions;
the narrowness of the road;
the congested road junction with New Road;
the densely built-up area immediately adjacent;
the presence of a church and school in a position such that Northchurch High Street has to be crossed by the majority of residents to gain access;
the high proportion of vulnerable adults i.e. primary school children and elderly persons needing to cross the High Street;
and the accident record;

and authorise the officers to carry out further traffic studies with a view to implementing traffic calming measures and a speed limit of 20 mph along the A4251 from Pea Lane to Billet Lane and up New Road to a point just to the north of Bridgewater Hill

(b) institute a review of the existing Speed Management Strategy to achieve greater flexibility to introduce 20 mph zones and limits, in particular by introducing the words", withexceptions" into the criterion under "Rural" for the Speed Limit Framework after the second bullet point (dealing with A & B roads -"roads with a strategic or main road function"), thus introducing the same degree of flexibility present under the "Urban" heading [See Appendix 3, Hertfordshire Speed Limit Framework to the Highways & Management Speed Management Strategy, March 2014] and so enabling road safety along the stretches of the A4251 and B4506, referred to above, to be brought into line with the stretch of the A4251 in the centre of Berkhamsted where both speed tables and a 20 mph speed limit have been in existence for more than 20 years."

The motion had the support of the Executive Member, Cllr Ralph Sangster and the Local Member, Cllr Terry Douris and after a short debate was passed without dissent with all-party support.

Following the Council Meeting, Cllr Nick Hollinghurst had further discussions about a variety of highway issues which included the Northchurch situation. He gained the impression that there were a number of other situations in Hertfordshire where such a relaxation of the Speed Management Strategy would also prove useful.

Cllr Hollinghurst said, "It is clear we have the good will of the highways officers in this and I am optimistic that the review will provide a policy framework within which the Northchurch 20mph Zone could be agreed. I also understand the the Local Member has already authorised further traffic studies out of his Highways Locality Budget. This is all most welcome. However I must warn the local people that everything connected with highways happens very slowly indeed. This is especially so at a time when central government is sucking more and more funding out of local councils."