IN part three of our ‘Twenty is Plenty’ campaign, Bill Jacobs looks at Lancashire County Council’s 20mph speed limit on residential roads and its lessons for Blackburn with Darwen borough . . .

WITH its programme of 20 mph zones two thirds complete, Lancashire County Council’s drive to cut drivers’ speed in residential streets is already showing results.

Former Tory leader Geoff Driver, the man behind the plan, was so astonished by the early figures he asked experts to recheck them.

His Labour successor Jenny Mein asked for a halt for a new audit of effectiveness but remains committed to the principle of reducing speed in narrow residential streets. She is backed in this approach by the Liberal Democrats.

She wants to ensure the policy of signs only without physical traffic-calming measures such as speed humps and chicanes is effective.

So far 53 of the identified residential areas for the new zones are under construction, or have been completed across Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.

Another 35 are awaiting the final go-ahead, or under consultation.

Since the programme started in 2011, police figures show a drop in casualties in the county from 96 under 15s killed or seriously injured in 2010/2011 to 66 in 2012/2013.

Across the five boroughs the total of injured youngsters fell from 202 to 144 seriously injured (there were no deaths) from 41 to 31.

In Burnley South west, a trial area covering large areas of Victorian terraces and the 1950/1960s Stoops council estate, results were even more dramatic.

The three years before the zone was introduced saw 33 injuries– 31 slight and two serious – and the 15 months afterwards had just five slight and no serious.

Results in the Victorian terraced West End of Morecambe and the 1960s Larches council estate in Preston were equally dramatic – 16 injuries with one serious down to two and five casualties down to zero.

Coun Driver is convinced the change is a major success, must be completed and should be adopted by Blackburn with Darwen Council.

He said: “When I was in my 20s I knocked over a child in Salford. I was doing about 25mph. I slammed on the brakes and hit her at about 15mph. She was shaken but if I had hit her at 30, she could have been killed. That has stayed with me.

“When we came into power, we looked at child road accident statistics for the county and decided something had to be done.

“When I got the new figures, they were so good I could not believe them and asked for them to be rechecked. They showed that this policy worked. It is particularly important in areas with many narrow Victorian terraced streets like Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale. It was a brave and important decision and we set aside £9m. The new Labour leadership of Lancashire must complete this programme and Blackburn with Darwen Council should bring in 20mph on all residential streets.”

Coun Mein said: “We have to look closely at the results of the 20 mph zones and see exactly how effective they have been. We will then review the policy. As an administration we remain committed to reducing speeds and accidents in residential areas, especially those with high numbers of Victorian terraced homes, such as Burnley.

“What we don’t know till we have properly reviewed the evidence is whether the Conservative administration’s policy of 20 mph zones with signs only is effective and whether we need other physical traffic management measures to make the zones work properly.”


THE Lancashire Telegraph’s 20 Is Plenty campaign aims to change the attitude to driving in East Lancashire by persuading the councils to:

  • Take a strategic decision to introduce 20mph speed limit zones in all residential areas and near schools over five years, supported by signs and appropriate physical traffic management measures
  • Announce a programme to roll out the 20mph zones within five years starting with a pilot this summer
  • Pledge to improve road safety education for schoolchildren, especially primary pupils
  • Commit with Lancashire Police and county council to make speed awareness courses available to all motorists convicted of breaking 20mph limits
  • Educate motorists of the dangers of driving above 20mph in residential areas,  changing driver psychology and empowering safe drivers