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Fears 20mph rollout will ‘criminalise’ local drivers

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Speed limits across Aberdeenshire could be splashed, despite fears that drivers will be “criminalised” under the new measures.

The Garioch Area Committee yesterday gave their blessing to proposals to roll-out 20mph zones across the region.

Under the proposals, all roads in “principal” town centres – Peterhead, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Stonehaven, Ellon, Banchory, Turriff, Huntly and Banff – would be reclassified.

The council’s award-winning roads policy and asset manager, David Armitage, faced a grilling when explaining the proposals.

He admitted the council did not have a “pot of money” to dip into, describing the budget as “zero” and that it could cost £1.8 million to introduce the reduced speed policy.

Inverurie councillor Lesley Berry and East Garioch’s Dominic Lonchay, meanwhile, took issues with the proposals and tried, unsuccessfully, to steer the committee away from the plans.

Lesley Berry

Ms Berry said: “What is the benefit of taking 30mph wide-open roads and making them 20mph for no reason.

“I don’t remember us, or the committee, saying they wanted this, so why?

“You are making criminals out of people who won’t adhere to the 20mh limit.”

Councillor Dominic Lonchay echoed that sentiment and argued the council should continue with their current policy of bringing in lower speed limits selectively backed by traffic calming measures.

He said: “If we lower the limit we are criminalising a lot of local citizens.

“There are plenty of criminals going around at the moment and we don’t need any more.”

However, councillor Martin Ford countered: “No-one will be criminalised if they are law abiding. The law is there for a reason.”

Councillors spoke of hearing of many residents who had called for speed reductions, and voted by nine to two in favour of supporting the new policy to implement lower limits.

The Garioch area committee’s feedback will go to the local authority’s infrastructure services committee with a public consultation also being planned.

The new speed limits could be phased in across Aberdeenshire over a five to 10-year programme, depending on the availability of resources, giving priority initially to disadvantaged areas where the benefits would be greatest.

Last month, it was announced that drivers w0uld be subjected to a 20mph speed limit on the vast majority of roads across Glasgow, under new plans agreed by their councillors.

The restriction would apply to residential streets, the city centre and other main shopping areas.

It will also be enforced where there are high levels of walking or cycling in a bid to improve safety, reduce noise and cut congestion.

Glasgow City Council’s Anna Richardson, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, told the BBC: “It’s well known that lower speeds reduce the risk of accidents but also reduce the severity of any injuries suffered by those involved.”

She added the council’s research on the impact of 20mph zones indicated a 31% reduction in incidents.

A similar consultation is underway in Edinburgh’s city centre.

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