Plans are due to be released next month relaxing rules on 20mph zones for councils, local transport minister, Norman Baker, revealed at the Liberal Democrat Party conference. The new policy will mean councils can implement such zones without getting the sign-off from Whitehall.
The move will form part of a new traffic signs policy which includes a raft of other concepts, including alternative route displays for traffic congestion, and signage to promote safer cycling.
Ministers intend to streamline traffic regulatory orders, and end Whitehall approval for special authorisation for a range of signage – for example, providing powers to erect no entry except cyclists signs.
Mr Baker said: ‘One of the first decisions I had to take was whether to approve a roads work permit scheme for Northamptonshire. ‘I was astonished. What has this to do with me? I am now taking ministers out of such decisions.’
Mr Baker said plans to hand the powers to local authorities would also cut the number of redundant road signs and bureaucracy, echoing communities secretary Eric Pickles’ desire to remove ‘street clutter’ and improve town hall efficiency on public realm design and street furniture (Surveyor, August 26 2010).
The announcement follows the EU committee on transport’s recommendation to make all residential areas into 20mph zones, and consistent lobbying from various UK-based charities and organisations in favour of the move to safer highways environments.
Earlier this year, (Surveyor, 11 March), Professor Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation warned speeds should be cut to 20mph to reduce casualties.
Mr Baker concluded: ‘In carefully selected locations, signs will be erected to advise motorists of alternative ways of getting from A to B. This will help cut carbon and ease congestion on our roads.’