Committee briefed on proposed 20mph speed limit bill

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The Environment Committee was briefed on a bill aimed to set a speed limit of 20mph on minor residential roads in Northern Ireland, on 6 March 2014.

The SDLP's Pat Ramsey said the Road Traffic (Speed Limits) Bill aimed to "increase road safety particularly for pedestrians" and to help human health and the environment.

He explained the bill would only apply to minor streets and not major thoroughfares and the scheme would be "clearly inappropriate" for rural roads.

The Foyle MLA said a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 20mph would have a one in forty chance of being killed but this would increase to one in five at 30mph.

Mr Ramsey said consultation responses had shown people disagreed over how the bill would be implemented.

He said some believed increased signage would suffice whereas others wanted a "complete street approach" with a package to slow the traffic.

Mr Ramsey said the enforcement of the bill would be "clearly an issue" if a public awareness campaign, in cooperation with statutory bodies and police, was not instilled in the process from the beginning.

He also said he wanted to address that "one aspect of concern would be the financial implications".

He referred to the City of Portsmouth where the implementation of 20mph speed limits throughout the city cost almost £600,000.

"I believe the social factors of such a piece of legislation outweigh the costs," he said

The private member's bill was originally proposed by Mr Ramsey's former party colleague Conall McDevitt.

There had been uncertainty over the bill's future after Mr McDevitt, who represented South Belfast, quit politics in September.

The Environment Committee was also briefed by Department of the Environment officials on the Local Government Bill.

This bill sought to transfer a range of functions from central government and to end the practice of "double-jobbing" by placing a bar on MLAs, MPs and MEPs serving as councillors.

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