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20mph speed limit proposal rejected by rural committee

20 mph speed limit - credit Neil Turner CC2.0

20mph speed limit proposal rejected by rural committee

Proposals to set a standard speed limit of 20mph for all residential streets have been rejected by the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy committee.

The member’s bill by Green MSP Mark Ruskell aims to improve road safety by lowering the standard speed limit from 30mph to 20mph in residential areas and minor roads.

It has been backed by a number of health organisations and local authorities, including British Heart Foundation, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Edinburgh and Glasgow councils.

However, the Safer Streets Bill did not receive the backing of the majority of MSPs on the committee, with only three – fellow Green John Finnie, Labour's Colin Smyth and SNP member John Mason – backing the proposal.

The rejection comes three weeks after the Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford announced Wales will move to a 20mph standard to reduce road deaths. The policy received cross-party support in the Welsh assembly.

Committee convener Edward Mountain MSP said members had decided a ‘one size fits all’ approach was not the most effective way to improve safety.

"The committee is of the view that local authorities should have the flexibility to decide where new 20mph zones would be most effective and appropriate for their areas,” he said.

Ruskell said he hoped SNP MSPs would “find a backbone” before the bill is debated in the Scottish Parliament chamber in June.

"I know that there is disquiet about this among some SNP backbenchers, and I hope that the First Minister will listen to them and the local councils, health, children's and environmental organisations that are backing the bill,” he said.

The Glasgow Centre for Population Health estimate 20mph speed limits could reduce road injuries by  500-750 per year and encourage more people to walk or cycle.

This week the EU provisionally agreed to enforce mandatory speed limiters for all vehicles sold in Europe from 2022.

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