Divided opinion over 20mph zones

Chairman of the Mereside Tenants and Residents Association John Raine.

Chairman of the Mereside Tenants and Residents Association John Raine.

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PART of Blackpool is set to become a 20mph zone – despite huge public opposition to speed reduction plans on the Fylde coast.

An unprecedented 11,843 voted against speed cuts in a Gazette online poll – with just 2,023 in support.

But plans for 50 roads in Marton to be made 20mph are being put into action. The news comes as residents in Preesall are gearing up to fight the county council over the 20mph limits already introduced in their village.

Lancashire County Council – creating 20mph zones along with the Blackpool authority – said the scheme will save lives.

But frustrated residents claim the £9.2m countywide scheme is a waste of money.

Roads earmarked for the lower limit in Marton include East Park Drive and parts of Preston Old Road.

John Raine, chairman of Mereside Residents Association, where a similar scheme has already been implemented, described it as a ‘waste of money’.

He said: “We are spending an awful lot of money putting these signs up all over Mereside and now Marton but no-one is taking a blind bit of notice.

“Cars are driving down narrow streets at 40mph and it seems there is no way to enforce them so what are the council playing at? They just want people to think they are doing something to protect residents.

“Who will have to be killed before they actually do something worthwhile, a child or an 80-year-old woman, these schemes do not work.”

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Marton Coun Debbie Coleman said she wants more consultation with residents.

She added: “I’m going to hire a hall for a consultation so people can say whether they are for or against it.”

The council stressed the scheme in Marton is a pilot, and they will assess the impact it has and the reaction of local residents before it is made permanent.

However, the scheme has the support of Coun Jim Houldsworth, who wants to use £17,000 of the area’s ward budget to put the plans into action.

He said: “Why do people think they should drive at 30mph in a residential zone?

“Our area is being used as a rat run between East Park Drive and Preston New Road.

“20mph signs will slow sensible people down – there are people who it will never slow. If you put 100mph speed limit in they would want to do 101 mph.”

And Mary Naylor, from Doncaster Road, where the speed limit is due to be cut, added: “The speeding is horrendous in Marton. Lancaster Road has speed bumps, so Doncaster Road gets the speeding traffic they used to get. A lot of accidents have occurred over the years.”

Blackpool Council’s deputy leader Coun Fred Jackson said: “We are watching with interest to see how these changes will affect road safety in residential areas across Lancashire.

“In Blackpool we constantly review ways to make our roads as safe as possible and will be piloting a 20mph zone in Marton.

“By introducing pilots, we are able to listen to local residents and take opinions into account.”

Almost 14,000 people voted in Saturday’s online Gazette news vote on whether speed limits in residential areas should be cut to 20mph.

A total of 11,843 voted no while 2,023 said yes – but County Coun Tim Ashton, the Lytham councillor responsible for Lancashire’s roads, believes people will accept the measures.

He said: “It’s about reducing the number of children seriously injured on Lancashire’s roads. Just putting signs up isn’t the solution, we’re going to be working with the community because the people who speed in residential areas actually live in those areas.”

Coun Ashton said it costs £1.6m every time someone is killed on the roads.

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