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Councils Can Afford 20 mph Limits Front-line services are unaffected

by Press Officer on 7 January, 2013

Worthing - worst for injuries to pedestrians and cyclists

A 20’s Plenty for Us Briefing, Jan 2013

Installing 20 mph limits is primarily a capital spend and has little bearing on council services or jobs. 20 mph limits are an affordable, best value policy with exceptional rates of return.  A third of councils have already committed.

Lower grants and falling budgets has meant reductions in front-line Council services and job losses. However, far from being a luxury in the face of redundancies, 20 mph limits are being implemented as an economic necessity because:-

·         Government accounting rules mean capital funding (e.g. signs) cannot be used for revenue (e.g. jobs)

·         One-off cost of signed 20 mph limits gives superb 800% – 2,400% rates of return.


Public sector capital cannot pay revenue costs. Whilst there are some revenue costs (e.g. design, consultation and soft measuresfor engagement) these are a small fraction of a mainly capital scheme.

All Highways Authorities get LTP capital from central government for maintenance, new schemes and road safety. Other sources include Private Finance Initiatives. Section 106 (developer) funding and New Homes Bonus money is usually spent on specific capital items to benefit residents. There is a revenue impact of a capital spend on financing it. Yet, interest rates are low. Plus factor in savings on road maintenance and signage lighting from lower speeds. Savings are revenue.

A Councils responsibilities are to fulfil its statutory duties, including road safety and aim to maximise the rate of return. For the one-off cost of installing 20 mph limits without humps Warrington reported a 800% (1:8) First Year Rate of Return (FYRR) on casualties avoided. Bristol found a 1:24 FYRR on the health benefits of more walking.

Cllr Ian Davey, Transport Committee Chair for Brighton and Hove said

Residential 20 mph limits is the single most cost effective measure that a Local Authority can take to reduce road casualties, make streets more attractive for walking and cycling and improve the quality of life of residents. They offer excellent value for money particularly when compared with the high cost of new infrastructure.”

Scrutiny in Greenwich, Brighton, Gloucester, Richmond-U-Thames, Haringey, Manchester, Darlington, Hartlepool and Warrington all rate 20 mph limits as a best value policy.

In austere times implementing 20 mph limits is highly efficient at turning one-off capital expenditure into real year-on-year savings for communities. Limits make home streets better places to be for only about £3 per head of population. Ask Councillors for wide 20 mph limits today. has the full briefing and references

We welcome comment and feedback.

20’s Plenty For Us campaigns for a 20mph default speed limit in residential streets without physical calming. Web Twitter @20splentyforus

Anna Semlyen, 20’s Plenty for Us Campaign Manager, T: 07572 120439  e:,


Sign the European Citizen’s Initiative for 20mph limits at

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