Question to NYC : Eskdale School Proposal consequence and 20mph

Eskdale School

In March 2023 at the “Scarborough and Whitby Area Constituency Committee” we submitted the following question

We have a current proposal to close one of the two secondary schools in the Whitby area. Should this proposal be passed that would mean circa 500 children from Whitby east-side having to walk anything up to 30 mins along a very busy road, part of which is 40mph with narrow pavements, and one part (Mayfield Road) with totally inadequate crossings. Even with the current walk to Eskdale school there are significant road safety issues for these same children. With this in mind Whitby Town Council passed a motion back in December 2022 requesting a default 20mph in the Whitby parish. A recent NYCC Scrutiny committee passed a motion requiring 20mph outside all schools and areas of high footfall. The current NYCC 20mph policy is widely seen as a mechanism for not introducing that limit, and no action has thus far been forthcoming from NYCC Transportation and Highways, just more “reviews” and “pilot”.

Does your committee consider it acceptable that children’s lives be put at risk on a daily basis just to get to an educational establishment, when there is a measure (20mph) that would make it inherently safer, but which is the subject of continual dither from Northallerton? Further to this, can you assure us that action will be forthcoming in the near future, because you do indeed actually value children’s safety?

Since we weren’t able to go to the meeting we weren’t able to find out whether it was asked, or what the answer was. We have now (15th May 2023) received the answer from Richard Marr, Area Highways Manager at NYC via an email from William Baines at NYC

May I first thank Whitby Community Network for their question and seek to assure them that NYCC takes its road safety responsibilities very seriously. As you will see from the Council’s response to the petition at Agenda item 8, the Council is only at the initial stage of consulting on a possible closure, no firm decision has yet been made either way. Nevertheless, following the consultation exercise, I expect there to be further dialogue between Council departments, e.g. in relation to discussing whether any highway improvements are necessary, in order to ensure student safety remains a top priority.

More widely, Members may recall that a revised 20mph Speed Limit Policy was introduced in January 2022, following its approval by the Executive. The positive changes, which highlight the importance of place and community and the role that a reduced speed limit has in improving road safety as well as achieving these broader ambitions, represent a demonstrable step forward in how requests for 20mph speed limits are now considered. Moreover, the Council is currently undertaking a review of the 20mph Speed Limit Policy, in part to see how well it has been embedded over the last twelve months or so, but in addition, to look at what further improvements can potentially be made. As part of that review, the Council is also considering how it should deal with area wide or default 20mph speed limit requests, which are beyond the scope of the existing Policy.

Apparently, the review of the 20mph Speed Limit policy referenced in the response is set to be considered by the NYC Executive at its meeting on 20 June 2023.

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