MOTORISTS look set to face many more and larger 20mph zones in England’s largest county after a road safety inquiry concluded action to cut risks for children was needed.

North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to examine introducing many more 20mph zones outside schools as its executive dismissed campaigners’ calls for blanket 20mph zones in all settlements.

The move follows an extensive investigation by the authority, which took evidence from groups such as 20s Plenty. It found public support for 20mph zones to be “far from clear”.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, who led the inquiry, told the executive meeting the council’s existing 20mph policy allowed a degree of flexibility in deciding whether to lower speed limits.

He said: “We were mindful that any policy change would need to ensure that the road users could continue to move effectively and efficiently as possible, both for work and leisure purposes.

“This is more important than ever for the sake of our wider economy when balanced against the numbers of killed and seriously injured on our lower speed roads in North Yorkshire.”

However, Cllr Lumley said the investigation had found the authority needed to consider more 20mph speed limits around schools, both primary and secondary, and look at increasing the size of 20mph zones around schools.

He said: “Extending the geographical area of the 20mph speed limit around schools would help children to use more effective modes of transport, walking or cycling, by making the road environment visibly safer beyond the immediate vicinity of the school.”

Other recommendations included calling on the council to draw up a list of high-risk collision areas to examine whether an area would benefit from a 20mph speed limit.

Cllr Lumley said while accident statistics should take precedence in determining whether an area should become a 20mph zone, other factors such as residents’ quality of life should also be taken into account.

The meeting heard concerns that alternatives to 20mph zones would be needed outside schools on busy main roads, where 20mph zones were not suitable.

In response, the authority’s executive member of access Councillor Don Mackenzie said he was supportive of some of the recommendations as the accident rate caused by speed in built-up areas of the county was tiny.

He said: “When budgets are limited we have to decide for ourselves whether we want to introduce 20mph limits generally in North Yorkshire and bring in all the additional costs that that would cause or whether we should, as the report suggests, focus on certain areas.

“I am wholeheartedly behind the recommendation that we look to all schools and that we consider 20mph limits in front of, or in the vicinity of, schools. I want to make sure all of our school pupils are as safe as they possibly can be.”