Talks under way on go-slow zones

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AXED plans for go-slow zones in Wearside’s accident black spots are back up for debate.

The deaths of 12-year-old Steven Atkinson and 11-year-old Katelyn Weldon on Sunderland’s roads in recent years have highlighted the dangers.

A watchdog committee drew up a list of 15 hot spots blamed for 400 accidents in the past five years and plans were in place to introduce special 20mph zones to prevent more children and adults being killed or injured.

But funding for the £1.5million go-slow project – which would have involved installing chicanes, bumps, rumble strips and other features in 402 streets – was hit by Government cuts.

Now councillors on Sunderland City Council’s environment and attractive city scrutiny committee plan to look again at the issue and push ahead with go-slow proposals.

The topic was raised by Silksworth councillor Phil Tye, who suggested the committee look at alternative ways of proceeding with such a scheme.

Speaking at a meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre, he said: “That has definitely got to come back. This is a very important issue.”

Chairman Graeme Miller said: “We did a really good bit of work on that, but unfortunately the funding from the Local Transport Plan which was going to pay for the areas to be reduced to 20mph was cut by Central Government.

“That’s the reason we’re back to square one. It was disappointing, but that’s where we are – though I’m sure there is a way for it to come back.”

Coun Miller had previously pointed out that the number of children killed or seriously injured in Sunderland had risen from 12 in 2008 to 23 in 2009.

“That makes me very worried,” he said. “Speed kills, and we’re not talking about people speeding. If you get hit by a car travelling at 20mph you’re much more likely to survive than if you were doing 30mph.”

The previous findings and proposals of the committee had been presented and accepted by Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet last year.

Scrutiny officer Helen Lancaster said it was a requirement that the scrutiny committee be updated on progress on the issue later this year.

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