North-east councillors have backed proposals to slash speed limits in towns and villages.
However, when Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch area committee met yesterday to discuss the plans, they were told it could cost nearly £2 million to introduce and there was “no budget” for it.
The move could be brought into force on all roads in what the local authority has described as “principal” town centres which include Peterhead, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Stonehaven, Ellon, Banchory, Turriff, Huntly and Banff.
A-class routes in other town centres like Westhill, Portlethen, Kintore, Macduff, Oldmeldrum and Kemnay would be moved to a blanket limit of 30mph.
All other roads in these villages and towns would be 20mph.
At the gathering in Inverurie yesterday, members of the committee were given a chance to have their say on the idea and the majority of councillors gave it their support.
David Armitage, the local authority’s roads policy and asset manager, presented the report detailing the proposals to councillors and said it was going to cost millions of pounds to introduce the changes but they do not have the cash to pay for them.
He said: “This doesn’t come at zero cost because we would have to put up signs and roll out traffic orders.
“The figure for doing this for Aberdeenshire Council is £1.8 million. We have a policy to allocate the work on these roads but we have zero budget.”
The report said a review of Edinburgh’s city-wide 20mph zone found there was a reduction in speed and accidents since it was brought in.
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Councillor Martin Ford said he was backing the idea put forward by council officers and the fact it could improve road safety would be welcome.
He said: “I welcome the fact you are doing this.
“The conclusion is there are some benefits and I’ll take those because they are worth having.
“The proportion of issues raised with us as councillors are speeding outside schools and other public buildings. I support this.”
Councillor Dominic Lonchay said he felt the council should continue with their current policy of bringing in lower speed limits selectively backed by traffic calming measures.
He was worried a blanket 20mph could “criminalise” motorists going about their business.
Mr Lonchay said: “There are plenty of criminals going around at the moment and we don’t need any more.”
Councillor Lesley Berry backed his stance and said “more information” was needed.
She said: “What benefit is it bringing asking me to change my driving habits. Why are we being asked to change this if there is no evidence of benefits?”
The Garioch area committee voted 9-2 to support the policy which could be introduced over the next decade.
Their feedback will go to the local authority’s infrastructure services committee with a public consultation also being planned.