Holyrood Committee rejects rollout of 20mph zones from Restricted Roads Bill

31.05.2019

A majority of MSPs on Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee have agreed not to recommend approval of a bill which proposes the introduction of 20mph zones for all restricted roads across Scotland.

The Bill, introduced by Mark Ruskell MSP, aims to improve road safety by reducing the default speed limit on restricted roads, generally residential streets and minor roads in both rural and urban areas, from 30mph to 20mph.

The Committee’s report concluded that whilst it supported the aims of seeking to widen the implementation of 20mph zones, the ‘one size fits all’ approach being proposed in the Bill was not appropriate. 

Speaking as the report was published, Committee Convener, Edward Mountain MSP, said:

“The Committee supports the road safety objectives of the Bill.  However, after considering extensive evidence, the Committee has concluded that the introduction of 20mph speed limits on all restricted roads in Scotland in a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not the most effective way of achieving those objectives.

The Committee is of the view that local authorities should have the flexibility to decide where new 20mph zones would be most effective and appropriate for their areas.”

Mr Mountain added:

“Additionally, the Committee agreed that the estimated costs and savings of implementing a Scotland wide change were not robust. 

“However, the Committee members believe that if more 20mph zones are to be introduced in Scotland, it must be made easier for local authorities to do so.
This could include simplifying the legal process of changing a 30mph zone to a 20mph zone, which at present is cumbersome and resource-intensive.” 

Background

The published report can be found here.

Evidence was provided to the Committee that the estimated cost of implementation did not fully consider all requirements and would vary across different local authorities. Costs that weren’t fully recognised included:

- The costs of assessments on roads which would be affected
- The legal cost of local authorities wishing to retain roads as 20mph zones
- The unspecified number of restricted roads that would be subject to the Bill’s proposals and the cost incurred in trying to establish the number.

It was reported that the cost of an awareness campaign after the implementation of the zones would be significantly higher than what was estimated within the Bill 

The Committee also heard conflicting evidence as to what the implementation time of the Bill would be. While the Bill put forward an estimated 18-month implementation period, one local authority suggested that due to constrained resources a period of 10 years may be needed if no additional resources were provided to help with implementation.  

The three Members who dissented from the recommendation in the report that the general principles of the Bill should not be approved were John Finnie MSP, John Mason MSP and Colin Smyth MSP.

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