Here’s my latest Muswell Flyer column – also available here: http://beckybeach.net.gridhosted.co.uk/?p=7119
The issue that I am most frequently contacted about at my constituency office is the state of the roads in Haringey. Potholes, road surfaces, the need for traffic calming and road safety – not a day goes by without someone telling me that they are troubled by these issues. Haringey Liberal Democrats and I have been campaigning hard for improvements and the past 2 months have finally seen Haringey Labour-run Council concede – with two dramatic successes.
In May Labour-run Haringey Council confessed that action had to be taken to improve the state of the roads following overwhelming evidence from the Haringey Lib Dems and local people. This was a hard fought-for admission but it is already clear that the Council has been making errors in their road survey by marking a road as being in a ‘general good condition’ when it is anything but.
The Haringey Lib Dems have been collecting information from residents and, so far, we have received complaints about potholes in 216 individual roads – more and more come in every day! The information we have gathered has been sent to the Council and I hope it will have a serious impact.
Our other major success has been in road safety. After years of campaigning, last month the Haringey Lib Dems had a breakthrough. We have been working to promote a 20mph speed limit for residential roads across the borough for the last 3 years and, at last, Labour-run Haringey Council has woken up to the issue. A long overdue consultation on a borough-wide 20 mph speed limit has been launched, allowing residents a chance to finally have their say.
There has been a lot of debate in recent weeks over the plans to implement a 20mph speed limit but the evidence is clear – road safety is dramatically increased by a lower speed limit. It has been shown to have a direct impact on improving safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. What’s more, if an accident does happen the injuries are a lot less likely to be serious. Most importantly – it has been shown to save lives.
Not only that – residents will gain the benefits of reduced traffic noise and reduced pollution. So it’s no surprise that this has been on our agenda for nearly three years.
Consultation is an essential part of the process and will give local residents in the area an opportunity to have their voices heard. We have launched a survey as we want to find out what people think. You can tell us your views here – bit.ly/20mphsurvey – and I encourage you all to do so.
This policy alone will not be the silver bullet that prevents any further road accidents. Other factors, such as educating all road users on safety, have to come into play. That said, I believe the speed limit will encourage drivers to change their behaviour and this – as well as bringing local roads up to standard – will have a huge impact on minimising the danger on our roads.
The roads in the UK have not been fit for purpose since Roman times and the only solution is:
1. Give local County Councils the right to set Road Fund Licence rates for non-commercial vehicles (ie bikes, caravans (!) vans and cars); Competition will drive rates down – the money raised being ring-fenced for ROAD improvements – NOT subsidising buses, trams, local trains etc
2. Privatise all non-urban roads to competing firms, who have carte blanche to improve them as they think fit. Firms to be paid by the volume of traffic and average speed, reductions for lane closures and accidents. They can only own one road with the same first digit, to ensure each area has numerous competing firms vying to provide the fastest route from A > B.
These firms are free to set whatever speed limits they think fit (the lower the limit and the lower the average traffic speed, the less they get paid)