Hitchin residents to have their say on 20mph speed limit plans


- Credit: Archant

Residents in a town could soon be consulted on a 20mph scheme after a councillor vowed to “get things moving”.

County councillors from a cross-party overview and scrutiny committee met at the end of last month to discuss Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) current strategy regarding the introduction of 20mph speed limits and zones.

In Hitchin, county and district councillor Judi Billing has said she hopes residents will be consulted in the near future.

Speaking to the Comet, Cllr Billing said: “I want to get things moving in the Bearton ward, all district and county councillors support a 20mph scheme in Hitchin and the next step is to get costing and get residents’ views.”

At the meeting county councillors also learnt that any agreed scheme may have to be funded through councillors’ individual £10,000 locality budget, as opposed to centralised funding from HCC.

Cllr Billing added: “I think it is a crying shame that, if we do roll out the scheme, we may need to fund it though our locality budgets. The whole thing has been a very slow process but if we do roll it out, it will be through very simple signage and no humps or bumps.”

Hitchin Forum chairman Mike Clarke said: “The benefits in terms of both safety and also improvements in physical health, were well described at the two-day county scrutiny committee in October.

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“However, the impression is that the positive support in the county scrutiny committee did not translate into a significant change in the county speed strategy, possibly because of the concerns about enforcement. The other concern, about cost, has been reduced because the policy changes at the Department for Transport would make the introduction of 20mph zones less expensive.

“In Hitchin there has been no practical discussion on whether discrete zones or a town-wide limit would be appropriate and supported by the residents. A zone incorporating the Bearton streets that Cllr David Billing promoted two years ago would be a good area to commence any consultation on.

“Incorporating Nightingale and Fishponds roads would make sense – they are residential, used by schoolchildren, pedestrians and cyclists travelling to the station, and also to the swimming centre and Archers fitness facilities.

“However, any money to introduce such zones has to be found from locality budgets, which will not be easy.”