SENIOR officials and councillors are proposing a new 20mph policy for the Westmorland and Furness Council area.

Members of the authority’s highways and transport strategic board will consider a report on the matter by Phil Greenup, the assistant director for highways and transport, next Tuesday (September 12).

It is being considered because it involves the council incurring expenditure, or the making of savings, which is significant regarding the council budget – the savings or expenditure are considered significant if they are more than £500,000.

In addition, it is likely to be significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising one or more wards in the council area, said Mr Greenup.

In his report, Mr Greenup requests board approval of a new 20mph speed limit policy and criteria to be used in assessing and prioritising requests for the speed limits.

He added: “20mph speed limits are important in supporting local communities and through the council plan aims to promote lower vehicle speeds.

“The main aims are to promote safer roads, reduce congestion, reduce vehicle pollution, enhance the environment for walking and cycling and support the community having a sense of place.”

The board agreed to develop a new 20mph speed limit policy at a meeting in June and this was reviewed, and feedback was provided from the communities and environment scrutiny committee, the following month.

Mr Greenup said 20mph speed limits were set out within the Department for Transport guidance for setting local speed limits and local authorities were encouraged to consider the introduction of more 20mph limits and zones in urban areas and built-up village streets that were primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

He added: “This policy is intended to enable the introduction of 20mph speed limits across Westmorland and Furness area and to streamline the process to achieve roll out over an accelerated timetable.

“There are at present some 20mph zones within our main towns and some villages have had rollout of 20mph schemes.

“However, this has been on an ad-hoc basis and taken place over many years.

"The introduction of 20mph speed limits more broadly across Westmorland and Furness Council was set out as a priority.”

The lower limits were aimed to:

- Make streets safer by reducing speeds and enabling a more equitable use of the road space for all users (vulnerable road users, sustainable transport, businesses and car users);

- encourage residents to walk or cycle by reducing speeds bring health benefits both physical and mental reduce noise and pollution by amending the way vehicles accelerate/deaccelerate.

Research, by the UK Transport Research Laboratory, has shown that every 1mph reduction in average urban speeds can result in a six per cent fall in the number of casualties.

Mr Greenup said: “It’s also been shown that you are seven times more likely to survive if you are hit by a car driving at 20mph, than if you are hit at 30mph.

“If a child suddenly steps in front of a car, you are much less likely to seriously injure or kill them if you keep to a 20mph limit.

“All new residential and urban roads will be designed and implemented as 20mph roads, where possible. It should be noted that not all new roads will necessarily be suitable.”

Tuesday’s public meeting will be at County Hall in Kendal from 1pm.