Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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Liberal Democrats’ campaign on 20mph speed limits wins backing of Oldham’s full council meeting

by Garth Harkness on 2 December, 2020

Labour support, Conservatives condemn as ‘c**p’

Experimental orders for Delph and Dobcross are being introduced like the recent order in Uppermill

Dobcross experimental order
Delph experimental order

Excitingly, the victory in gaining 20mph speed limits in Dobcross and Delph has proved to be only the beginning.  The Liberal Democrats pressed at November’s full council meeting (after this Focus went to press) for a presumption in favour of 20mph for residential streets across the whole borough and were delighted to win the Labour group’s support this time. 

Sadly, the Conservatives struck a bewilderingly sour note in an evening of constructive – and well-scrutinised – proposals to protect and help residents.  The Conservative leader Councillor John Hudson described the proposal as ‘talking c**p’ before his group went on to abstain in the vote.

Councillor Garth Harkness said: “I am delighted.  In Saddleworth, this decision in principle will hopefully enable quicker progress to protect residents in all our villages.    Across the borough it will save lives and prevent hundreds of injuries. I have been proud to support residents’ groups who have worked so hard to demonstrate local commitment to road safety.”

Parish Councillor Kevin Dawson added: “Like Garth, I am delighted.  Road safety is undoubtedly the top issue that residents in Delph and Denshaw raise with us.”

Garth has been at the forefront of this campaign since the Liberal Democrats first raised it in 2014.  In 2019 he proposed a motion to council and this time spoke powerfully in support.

“Persistence has paid off”, he said.  “Maybe it also reflects how recent months have brought home to us all how precious the lives and health of family and friends are to us.”

Motion passed:

Council November 4, 2020 – Notice of Opposition Business – 20’s Plenty in 2020

This Council notes that:

  • speed limits on Britain’s residential roads are 60% higher than in Europe.
  • more than half of all road accident casualties occur on roads with 30mph limits.
  • that a pedestrian is 7 times more likely to die if they are hit by a vehicle travelling at 30 miles per hour than they are at 20 mph and 10 times more likely if aged 60 or older.
  • reducing speed limits on residential roads has been found to reduce the incidence of accidents, the numbers of fatalities and serious injuries that result, and air pollution.
  • over 20 million citizens live in local authorities in the UK, including five authorities in Greater Manchester, which have adopted or are adopting a default speed limit of 20mph on residential roads.
  • the default speed limit of 20mph has been adopted by other local authorities without the implementation of physical calming measures.
  • in February 2020, road safety experts from 130 countries adopted the ‘Stockholm Declaration’ recommending 20mph / 30kph as the preferred default speed limit on residential roads and, in August 2020, the UN General Assembly endorsed this recommendation.

This Council recognises that:

  • If we are to ‘build back better’ after Covid-19, one of our key concerns must be to address all aspects of public health.
  • This should include lowering the default speed of motor vehicles driven on our residential roads to reduce the danger to residents.
  • Such a measure should be boroughwide and comprehensive.

This Council therefore resolves to:

  • Seek in principle to implement a borough-wide 20 mph speed limit on residential roads.
  • Ask the Overview and Scrutiny Board to look again at the practicalities and timescale of introducing such a scheme, in consultation with the 20’s Plenty Campaign, for consideration by full Council at the earliest possible opportunity.
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