Herts Council accused of overspending on its 20mph zone rollout

An opposition councillor believes other areas are getting “more bang for their buck”
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Labour councillor Ian Albert has challenged the county council’s record on the roll-out of 20mph zones across Hertfordshire, during a scrutiny of budget proposals.

Next year (2024/25) the county council has earmarked £2.3m for the creation of more 20 mph areas – as part of a move to improve road safety, create calmer streets and encourage more walking and cycling.

That comes after a £3m investment in 2023/24 and with plans for a further £1.7m in 2025/6 – bringing the proposed three-year investment to £7m.

There could be 20mph zones in Hertfordshire (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)There could be 20mph zones in Hertfordshire (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
There could be 20mph zones in Hertfordshire (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

And ultimately it’s estimated that there could be more than 50 of the 20mph areas across the country.

But on Friday (January 26) Cllr Albert asked executive member for highways and transport Councillor Phil Bibby how the number of 20mph zones could be increased within the same budget.

Councillor Albert suggested that other authorities rolling out 20mph schemes appeared to be getting ‘more bang for their buck’.

And he asked whether the county had looked at other councils around the country, to see whether schemes could be implemented more cheaply or in a more cost effective way.

Councillor Phil Bibby suggested that schemes in other areas may not be working in the way they would like them.

But Councillor Albert said the council did not seem prepared to ‘look at other slightly more innovative approaches’ to deliver more of the schemes within the budget.

During the session – which was held virtually – Councillor Bibby said they were finding that proposed 20mph areas were not as popular as some people believed.

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And he said that quite a few of the proposed schemes would not be proceeding – freeing up funds for schemes that were ‘further down the list’.

He also suggested that there had been some ‘economies of scale’ through the merging of schemes – with lower priority schemes being added to higher priority areas.

And he said: “We are working very innovatively to put these schemes in place. We are saving money where we can and we are carrying forwards monies that we are not using on aborted schemes.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Bibby also suggested they were likely to consider a future programme of 20mph areas that would concentrate on areas around schools.

And Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul de Kort suggested that funds from schemes that were not wanted could be diverted to areas around schools.

The remarks were made at a virtual budget scrutiny meeting on Friday (26 January), as part of ongoing scrutiny of the county council’s budget proposals for 2024/25.