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Leek 20mph proposals spark fury among councillors

A town council meeting in Leek descended into acrimony this week over calls for the possible introduction of 20mph speed limits.

Leek Town Council eventually opted to support a motion which calls on Staffordshire County Council to review various aspects of traffic management and speed restrictions in the town.

However, Conservative members of the Labour-led authority railed against the proposal, saying they were in favour of reviewing traffic management but vehemently opposed to introducing a blanket 20mph speed limit.

Labour hit back at the suggestions, saying the plans only called for the county council to consider evidence across a number of different proposals.

Cllr Stephen Wales (Con) said he was calling for a ‘comprehensive road traffic and management review’ but that Labour councillors had hijacked his proposal by adding consideration of where various iterations of a 20mph speed limit could be imposed.

He said: “What’s come forward now, with this new motion from Cllr Matt Swindlehurst, has conflated the comments I made at the last meeting about having the county council do a review of traffic and road management within the town with this 20mph issue.

“They’re entirely different topics, and I would ask the councillor if he’d withdraw that section of his proposal to allow a proper vote to take place.”

He went on to question Cllr Lyn Swindlehurst’s impartiality over the issue, and also tried to argue that a majority of Leek residents were against the proposals.

Cllr Matt Swindlehurst (Lab) refused to amend the proposal as he feels traffic management and speed limits both need to be considered together.

He said: “As chair of the council, I was trying to explore the opportunity to write a motion that would be a compromise between all parts of the council.

“That’s why I particularly want a full review of the town’s traffic systems – including all of those on Cllr Wales’ list. I know it’s very important to him.”

He added: “All we’re asking for is for a review. If we’re granted that review, there will be a consultation period – the subject will come back to this council, we’ll have a full debate and we’ll include in that debate all those different issues Cllr Wales has listed.”

Cllr Mike Worthington (Con) said he’d raised the issue with Alan White, leader of Staffordshire County Council, who’d told him the idea of 20mph zones wouldn’t be entertained by the authority.

Cllr Worthington said: “Construction of a 20mph zone would get no consideration whatsoever at the county council, so we’re wasting county council time and our councillors’ time.

“They’ve got no interest of introducing any 20mph zones at all.”

Cllr Lyn Swindlehurst reminded those present that it was not in the gift of the town council to make a decision on the issue.

She said: “We are discussing saying to county council ‘look at the evidence and make your decision’.

“It’s not our decision, we have no control over highways. This has been discussed for about four years in the council, and none of this is our decision.”

The issue attracted attention from members of the public who turned up to show opposition to the idea of a town-wide 20mph scheme.

One of those in attendance, Rebecca Massey said: “I feel there hasn’t been enough consultation about the idea of three proposals put forward for a Leek 20mph restriction zone.

“After two meetings I’ve been to, I’m on clearer as to what theses proposals are that the town council is suggesting to go forward with.

“Like any reasonable person, I would agree with strategic use of 20mph roads – certainly with schools, hospitals or accident black spots – but I do not agree with blanket 20mph restricted zone.”

She said she had data which showed it doesn’t reduce fatalities or the number of collisions which take place.


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