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Agenda item

Schools 20 mph Part-Time Speed Limits Project

(i)              Report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services.

(ii)             Presentation by the Head of Technical Services and the Traffic and Streetworks Manager, Regeneration and Local Services.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the Head of Technical Services, John Reed and the Traffic and Streetworks Manager, Danny Harland who were in attendance to give an update presentation in relation to the Schools 20 mph Part-Time Speed Limits Project (for copy see file of minutes).

 

The Head of Technical Services thanked Members for the opportunity to provide an update in terms of the project, noting that this year was the last of four years, albeit now having a slight extension.  He reminded the Committee that the original project had been approved by Cabinet in 2014 for 33 schools, with those having the highest accident rate having been prioritised.  It was explained that those original 33 schools were funded from a one-off Public Health grant, together with revenue budget to deliver road safety education and social marketing.  The Head of Technical Services reminded Members that following the Department for Transport (DfT) noting that only a specific type of sign could be used, cheaper than those originally costed for, it had been possible to have schemes for a further 33 schools from this underspend.  He noted that for those 33 schools, Overview and Scrutiny set up a Working Group looking at the criteria for allocating schemes, and also in developing a wider 20mph Limits and Zones Policy.  It was noted that the new criteria were more sophisticated, looking at accident rate but also including risk, whether there was a school crossing patrol, volume of pedestrians, volume of vehicles and data on the speed of traffic.

 

The Head of Technical Services noted that when the 66 schemes had been undertaken it had been determined that, where there were other schools in close proximity to those on the allocated, there was the opportunity to have added benefit by including those nearby schools.  Councillors noted that this meant a total of 78 schools had benefited from the original Public Health grant and revenue budget allocation. 

 

 

Members were reminded that the 20mph Limits and Zones Policy allowed for schemes to be funded by third parties and that an additional 31 schemes had been completed, with the majority of the funding coming from Member’s Neighbourhood Budgets, and other sources of funding including Area Action Partnerships (AAPs), Parish Councils, Schools and other external funding.  It was noted there were a further 15 such third party funded schemes in development.  Members were made aware that an underspend had been identified in the final year of the scheme, and therefore it would be recommended that an additional six schemes based upon the 2016 criteria would be delivered within the 2019/20 financial year, subject to agreement by Cabinet.

 

The Traffic and Streetworks Manager, explained that, in addition to the physical works, the road safety education and social marketing was vitally important.  He noted that the purpose was to ensure that people were made aware of the schemes, children and young people were encouraged to walk and cycle to schools, and that motorists were persuaded to slow down.  Councillors noted that activities to help raise awareness included: cycle training and practical child pedestrian training; peer-to-peer learning through theatre education; Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs) to promote and maintain road safety messages; working with Living Streets, the sustainable walking charity to introduced incentivised walking schemes; and the distribution of letters and plans to the wider community where schemes were delivered to ensure buy-in from local people.

 

Members watched a video featuring schoolchildren from various schools reciting poetry with messages linked to road safety. 

 

The Traffic and Streetworks Manager reminded Committee that an evaluation had been carried out over a six-month period in 2016, looking at four elements: a survey of 10 schools, comprising of 493 pupils; a case study, including interviews and a focus group; feedback from a JRSO event; and a school census on active travel.  Members noted that it had been found that there had been a number of positives, including acceptance of the schemes, and increase in perception of road safety and an increased desire to walk and cycle to school.  The Committee noted that the evaluation had highlighted that changing driver behaviour was a long-term goal and that all 20mph schemes needed to be supported with “soft measures” and “nudge” approaches to help ensure schemes’ success.

 

Councillors were referred to charts setting out how safe young people felt walking to school before and after the introduction of a 20mph limit.  It was noted that prior to schemes, the percentages for those feeling not safe, quite safe and very safe were 7 percent, 48.77 percent and 44.24 percent respectively.  It was added that following the introduction of schemes the response was 3.09 percent, 36.21 percent and 60.70 percent respectively, a significant improvement.  The Traffic and Streetworks Manager added that DfT had also published a study they had undertaken in respect of 20mph limits nationally, with evidence showing a small 1mph reduction in median speeds, however it was noted that there was a greater reduction in vehicles travelling at greater speeds.  Members noted that it had also been demonstrated that the 20mph limits had encouraged use of healthier and more sustainable transport, such as walking and cycling.  The Traffic and Streetworks Manager explained that the DfT evaluation had noted that there had been insufficient evidence to conclude that 20mph limits within residential area had led to a significant change in collisions or casualties.

 

The Chairman thanked the Head of Technical Services and the Traffic and Streetworks Manager and asked Members for their comments and questions.

Councillor C Wilson noted a school in her Division, St. Helen’s Primary, was not on the list for a 20mph limit, she noted that earlier in the week a young girl had been knocked down, though thankfully not seriously injured, she asked if there was anything that could be done to help in this situation.  The Head of Technical Services reiterated that the list of schemes was in line with the criteria agreed, however, if the matter was deemed a local priority and Members and relevant partners were able to secure funding then it may be possible to bring forward a scheme.  He reminded Members that their new Neighbourhood Budget would be in effect from 1 April and they could speak to the Traffic and Streetworks Manager should they have funding and wish to have a scheme developed.

 

Councillor B Avery thanked the Head of Technical Services and the Traffic and Streetworks Manager for their work, noting that Ferryhill had also not been on the list of schemes, however local Members had been able secure funding and a scheme was delivered.  He added it was an excellent job and much appreciated by Members and the community.

 

Councillor H Liddle asked if it was known how many more schools would need to have schemes brought forward so that all schools within the county were covered and would it be possible to link schemes to any development that may be taking place within an area.  The Head of Technical Services noted that he did not have the number to hand, however, with there being around 280 schools in the county, then with the schemes completed, and in the pipeline, it would mean that around half of the schools had schemes.  He reiterated that there was always the potential for further schemes if third party funding was secured.  The Chairman supported  Councillor H Liddle’s point and to explore the possibility to utilise Section 106 (s106) monies from development to help deliver more schemes.

 

Councillor R Crute thanked the Head of Technical Services and the Traffic and Streetworks Manager and all of the Team for their work with Members, the Committee, the 20mph Working Group, Schools, Town and Parish Councils and AAPs.  He added that this was an excellent example of how to maximise funds and the work of all involved was very commendable.  He noted the Durham University evaluation and that the improved feeling of safety was important, however, he asked if there had been any common factors that could be learned from going forward, for example in terms of speed enforcement.  The Traffic and Streetworks Manager explained that the evaluation noted that wider engagement was important and to involve young people, an example being the video with the schoolchildren reciting their poetry.   

 

Councillor E Mavin noted 109 schemes had been completed, though only five schemes that had involved Town and Parish Councils and asked if they were aware of the potential for schemes to be brought forward.  The Head of Technical Services noted that Town and Parish Councils were aware, and it was their choice whether they wish to bring forward a potential scheme, working with Local County Councillors.  He added that he would welcome any support that would help progress a scheme.

 

Councillor L Maddison noted the 20mph schemes in Spennymoor/Middleston had been very effective.  She added that a scheme, part-funded by the AAP and Neighbourhood Budget and working with Durham Constabulary, utilised interactive headgear to help educate young people as regards the consequences of speeding.  Councillor L Maddison added that additional software could be used to demonstrate cycling and help engage with children and young people while providing important safety information.

 

The Chairman added that there was a lot of hard-hitting and effective information presented at events such as WiseDrive and while perhaps a little shocking for young people he reiterated that it was vital important to get those safety messages across.  The Head of Technical Services noted he had used the technology mentioned by Councillor L Maddison and that it was a great tool.  He added that the Council and partners such as Durham Constabulary and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service worked together to deliver road safety messages and would always look at any new opportunities to promote those messages.  The Head of Technical Services reiterated that there would be work in the near future relating to the Road Safety Strategy, with an Overview and Scrutiny Working Group looking at the topic.

 

Councillor L Kennedy noted that schemes in her area had been positive and had involved agencies such as the Police, AAP and schools themselves.  She added that the “Mini-Police” had also been involved with activities in relation to community safety and Community Speedwatch, with their signs, pictures and presentations helping to bring home the safety messages.

 

The Chairman thanked the Head of Technical Services and his Team, noting they had been very accommodating and helpful to Local Members in order to help get schemes underway.

 

Councillor J Turnbull asked as regards the criteria and cited Neville’s Cross Primary as an example of where he felt traffic would not be able to get in excess of 20mph during peak times yet he and his fellow Divisional Councillor, Councillor P Taylor had worked together to pay £25,000 for a single scheme in their area, with this having large wagons traveling past to access a nearby industrial estate.  The Chairman reiterated that Overview and Scrutiny had been involved with the revised criteria, through a cross-party working group, and added that the criteria were not subjective and represented a fair matrix by which to allocate schemes.  Councillor J Turnbull noted he had been involved with the working group and noted that perhaps there would be scope for s106 funding from developments nearby, for example at Browney.  The Head of Technical Services reiterated that the criteria had been developed with Overview and Scrutiny.  He noted that in terms of Neville’s Cross, while at busy times the traffic may indeed be travelling below 20mph, there was a very high number of vehicles and pedestrians in the locality.  He added that the project had an aim of not only reducing speeds, but also to have benefits in terms of the perception and feeling of safety, to encourage walking and cycling.

 

The Chairman thanked the Team and noted that this would be the last update on the project.

 

Resolved:

 

That the report and presentation be noted.  

 

Supporting documents:

 

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