A motion to add 20mph speed limits outside 10 more schools in Orkney has been backed by councillors – 21 years after the first request from islands residents.
At a meeting of full council today, councillors were presented with a notice of motion from councillor Dr Stephen Clackson, who wants to see lower speed limits at schools outside the Orkney mainland and linked isles.
Councillors were keen to back the plan, with many saying they weren’t concerned by the project’s price tag of almost half a million.
However, it was agreed that it could take two years to get the speed limit zones in place.
‘There are schools in 40mph zones and even one in a 60mph zone’
Presenting his case for the limits to his colleagues this morning, Dr Clackson said: “KW15, KW16, KW17. The road safety of Orkney’s school children should not be a postcode lottery.
“Yet, if they live in a KW15, their schools will sit in a 20mph zone. While in KW17, there are schools in 40mph zones and even one in a 60mph zone.”
Reading an email of support from Police Scotland, he said: “A child hit by a vehicle travelling at 20mph has a chance of survival with a few broken bones.
“However, a child hit at 40mph or greater will have a very limited chance of survival.
“Police Scotland will certainly enforce this once implemented.”
10 year battle to have limit lowered
He said, back in 2000, there were no speed limits on the islands other than the national speed limit of 60mph.
While Sanday Community Council requested a 30mph zone be installed at the island’s school, nothing happened.
Six years later the school board tried again, this time requesting a 20mph limit.
Three years after that, there was an accident at the school and a petition for a 20mph limit was raised.
In 2010, the council decided to implement a 20mph speed limit at Sanday Junior High School.
However, he added: “Eventually, in 2011 a speed limit was installed but it was a 40mph limit.
“Remember, if hit by a vehicle at 40mph a pedestrian has only a 10% chance of survival compared to a 90% survival rate at 20mph.”
‘I’ve lost patience and the public is losing faith in the council’
Mr Clackson continued: “In 2017, the development and infrastructure committee recommended the introduction of 20mph limits in the vicinity of eight islands school, but nothing has happened.
“There are children now going to these schools whose parents were pupils when that request was made at the turn of the millennium.
“I’ve lost patience and the public is losing faith in the council.
“Let us restore their faith by getting this job finished.”
The report to councillors says the project would stretch the council’s already challenged resources cost around £478,000. There would also be costs for ongoing maintenance and the “upgrading of units.”
However, this would be the cost of installing variable part-time limits.
These would use signs with blinking lights and require added infrastructure and maintenance.
Dr Clackson said this would be the most expensive solution.
He said his proposals don’t define the type of 20mph zone needed and the cheaper solution of permanent speed limits shouldn’t be ruled out.
He pointed out that 20mph zones are used across the country and in Stromness, there is a 15mph zone.
Seconding the motion, councillor John Richards said it is “inequitable and illogical” to have different speed limits outside schools.
Having different speed limits for different schools is ‘illogical’
However, the council’s deputy leader Leslie Manson, said the process was “more complex” than he had expected.
He said aiming to have the speed limits in place by the end of 2022 would be “unreasonable.”
There were also mixed opinions over whether permanent or part-time zones should be used.
Rather than contending with an amendment, Dr Clackson changed his motion to aim for the end of 2023.
Today’s decision does not mean 20mph speed limits are now in effect at the schools.
The proposals will be taken through due process and go on to the development and infrastructure committee.