SNP COUNCILLORS DECIDED that Road Safety Week was the ideal time to challenge the local authority on an idea that would introduce 20mph limits on all built-up areas of Moray.
Citing figures from road safety organisation BRAKE that showed anyone hit by a car at 20mph is seven times more likely to survive than those hit at 30mph, Speyside Glenlivet councillor Louise Laing called for a feasibility study to be undertaken.
Councillor Laing’s submission, seconded by Fochabers Lhanbryde SNP Councillor Dave Bremner, outlined the safety improvements that can result from 20mph speed limits.
However, the call for information on costings was rejected by Tory and Independent councillors – with the Council Leader, George Alexander, saying the Council had ‘more important things to deal with’.
Councillor Alexander’s comment came as he explained that the costs of taking such action would be such that it would be several years before any realistic hope of affording the plan would be feasible.
He added that there was little point asking officials to undertake a study on something that could not be acted upon in the foreseeable future.
Following the debate, Councillor Laing said: “Issues about speeding are being raised by residents, community councils, parent councils and other groups around our region.
“In Lossiemouth, Portgordon, Elgin, Rothes, Dufftown, Aberlour and many other communities there are people frightened to cross roads, people worried about their children’s safety and people who are seeing their roads busier than ever with vehicles.
“What I asked for in this motion was the cost implications of implementing 20mph speed limits in Moray. It would then be up to councillors to consider whether or not to carry out targeted work at speeding hotspots, whether to run a pilot scheme or whether to work on a full rollout over a number of years.
“Sadly there are still far too many road casualties, including fatalities, on Moray’s roads and some of those serious incidents have taken place in towns and some of those could have seen different outcomes with lower speeds.
“Regrettably the Council’s Administration were not prepared to support the request for these costings. What is most concerning is the Council Leader’s comment that the Council ‘has more important things to deal with’. That comment is really disturbing when we have seen a number of serious incidents.”
Councillor Bremner added: “In my own village of Garmouth a new 20mph limit has made the village feel much safer for the residents. Unfortunately, there was a recent incident in which a child had a close call with a car on a section of road in the village that wasn’t in the 20mph limit.
“Fortunately, the child was not hit but the incident still caused alarm for all involved. The Council has a major part to play in safety on our roads and to reject this motion is short sighted. This was about identifying the cost implications and then considering what could be done against the other priorities of the Council but to not even give it consideration is a bad decision.
“The SNP has a long history of pursuing road safety issues in Moray Council, from arguing for improvement on dangerous bends near Dufftown to pushing for 20mph limits round our schools and calling for safety improvements on Enzie Brae.
“Serious accidents come at a huge costs for the victims, their families and for the public purse in investigations, NHS costs, and the support provided to people through social care and other services. We will continue to make the case for road safety improvements across Moray.”