More areas in Cambridgeshire will see 20mph speed limits introduced under a £350,000 scheme. 

Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed 20 areas where it plans to prioritise introducing the lower speed limits. 

The authority hopes the 20mph speed limit will improve safety and encourage more people to walk and cycle rather than using a car for shorter journeys. 

Officers at a meeting of the county council highways and transport committee this week (October 3) said the scheme was oversubscribed with 88 applications made by community groups and parish and town councils. 

Councillors have agreed to prioritise 20 initial schemes for funding in 2023/24, which is estimated will cost the county council £348,000. 

The projects that were not picked for funding this year will remain on the ranked list for the 2024/25 round of funding. Officers also said they were looking at other funding opportunities for the other schemes. 

New applications will also be able to be made in future years. 

CllrAlex Beckett said it was “fantastic” to see the amount of interest from communities for the 20mph zones. 

Cllr Lorna Dupré said: “The oversubscription of the scheme demonstrates how popular road safety schemes are and how many communities want to see traffic calmed in their villages, their towns, and their communities. 

“I am pleased to hear we are looking for additional resources to meet the huge demand there is for safer streets, for people to walk, cycle safely, for children to be able to cross the road and for parents to be less anxious about their children going out streets; this is the direction we should be going in.” 

Cllr Bill Hunt said he was supportive of 20mph limits in certain places, particularly near schools and in the centre of villages and towns. 

However, he said he had concerns about the blanket introduction, which he said was being considered in Ely. 

Cllr Beckett highlighted that Ely was not one of the schemes being considered in the paper and asked Cllr Hunt to stick to discussing the 20 schemes included in the report. 

Cllr Hunt asked whether the police had committed to enforcing the lower speed limits once they were introduced. 

Officers said police had told them the 20mph speed limits would be included in their routine enforcement activities. 

Cllr Hunt said he also had concerns that the lower speed limits would cause people to look at their speedometer more and not be looking at where they were going. 

Cllr Neil Shailer said he was “shocked” at this suggestion, adding that it was the responsibility of a driver to monitor their speed while also paying attention to the road and environment around them, whatever the speed limit was. 

Cllr Ian Gardener said one of the schemes that did not make the cut for the first round of funding was a village with no pavements, where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers were all on the road. 

He said the scheme was not prioritised due to the lower number of people living in the village. 

Cllr Gardener said he did not think the population should be a determining factor for the schemes and that it should instead focus on safety. 

Cllr Peter McDonald raised concerns about the schemes potentially being ‘killed’ by the Prime Minister under his potential plans to take powers away from local authorities to introduce 20mph speed limits. 

He said it would be “great” for the Conservative councillors at the meeting to say whether they would protest the Prime Minister “killing the programme”. 

Cllr Beckett said he was also concerned about the Prime Minister potentially taking this control away. 

He said the programme was “bottom up” with parishes themselves applying for the speed limits. 

Responding to this, Cllr Simon King said he was “dubious” about “blanket schemes”, referencing the 20mph default speed limit introduced in Wales by the Welsh government, but said he supported “selective schemes for particular areas”. 

Cllr Alan Sharp added that he had concerns about “blanket schemes”, but said around schools and in some other places he thought the 20mph speed limit was “important from a road safety point of view”. 

Cllr Sharp also said the authority needed to manage expectations on how many schemes could be funded unless more money was committed by the county council. 

The committee agreed to approve the prioritised schemes, with one abstention from Cllr Hunt. 

The 20 projects included on the prioritised list and the estimated cost of the schemes are: 

  • Cottenham (villagewide) – £27,000 
  • Fulbourn (majority of village) – £18,000 
  • Whittlesford (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Girton (extend the current 20mph zone to remainder of village) – £5,000 
  • Meldreth (majority of village) – £18,000 
  • Orwell (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Gt Wilbraham (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Willingham (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Fowlmere (majority of village) – £5,000 
  • Upwood and The Raveleys (parishwide on all eligible 30mph roads) – £18,000 
  • Oakington and Westwick (extend the current 20mph zone to include Westwick) – £5,000 
  • Gt Abington (High Street and Linton Road) – £18,000 
  • Wicken (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Elton (majority of village) – £18,000 
  • Linton (villagewide) – £27,000 
  • Houghton and Wyton (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Burwell (villagewide) – £27,000 
  • Hilton (villagewide) – £18,000 
  • Gt Staughton (majority of village) – £18,000 
  • Harlton (villagewide) – £18,000