Rise in 20mph zones expected as minister announces road sign reform

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Local councils will have more power over the introduction of 20mph zones in urban areas after transport minister Norman Baker announced a series of reforms at the Liberal Democrat conference yesterday.

The minister said that he was astounded that one of the first jobs he had to do on entering office was to approve a road works permit scheme in Northamptonshire, and wanted to cut the level of paperwork and admin so local councils can just get on with their job.

He said that he is taking this further by making it easier for councils to put up certain signs and implement 20mph speed limits without having to check with government first.

"The Traffic Signs review will also end the need for Whitehall approval for special authorisations for a whole range of signs, so councils will for example be able to erect No Entry Except Cyclists signs without having to ask Whitehall first," he said.

"I am also making it easier for councils who want to introduce 20mph schemes."

The new 20mph zones might not be signed in the traditional manner though, with Baker saying that painted roundels could be used instead of the red and white signs on posts.

Baker also said that he wanted the councils to take more responsibility when it comes to removing irrelevant signs, saying: "I would encourage councils to go further and take out redundant signs that are no longer needed.

"The one at Lewes cattle market which said: "Cattle and pigs turn left" has long gone, as I think has the one that said only: "Do not throw stones at this notice". But there are still lots of signs warning of cattle where cattle farming no longer occurs, and so-called temporary signs advising of events long past."