Yesterday Cheshire East councillors voted to approve the principle of introducing 20 mph speed restrictions, where appropriate, following farcical scenes.
First up was Councillor Goldsmith who rabbited on for seven minutes before being told to shut up by the mayor. Next came Councillor Crane who proposed the genius amendment to kick the can down the road and refer the matter to a non-existent committee (which I’m told will be formed and will be meeting as early as May 2021). Because this was accepted by the proposer, Councillor Akers Smith, the amendment was absorbed into the substantive motion. Play continued.
Very soon Councillor Clowes proposed yet another can-kicking amendment which although was the second amendment was referred to as the first amendment because the first amendment had been absorbed into the substantive motion. The mayor decided to move to a vote. One councillor asked whether they were voting on the first amendment or the second amendment (which didn’t exist). Brains (the town clerk?) calmly said they were voting for the amendment on the screen known as the first amendment. That was great until three more councillors asked exactly the same question. Brains calmly gave precisely the same answer and didn’t call any of them a blithering idiot. Voting on broadly party lines the amendment was rejected 39 to 37. Play continued.
After a while one councillor got bored and asked the mayor to take a vote; many thought this was a good idea but before they could have a vote they needed to have a vote on whether to have a vote. The vote on a vote was lost 38 to 33. Play continued.
During the next section one councillor confidently asserted that all 20mph speed limits were advisory and not mandatory, not realising that all signs with a white background on a red circle are mandatory. I hope she reads the highway code before she travels to Cheshire West or Warrington where 20mph zones are common.
During the next section stomachs were rumbling, dogs were barking and briefly somebody played some music, which was quite pleasant. Time moved on close to 3 pm before a LibDem councillor had the brilliant idea of removing the word ‘default’ and changing the word ‘limit’ to ‘restrictions’. The mayor was clearly edging towards a vote, councillors panicked but on consulting their WhatsApp group leader’s messages they were all told to vote for the motion and all did except for one who did a Jeremy Corbyn and refused to vote, but just like Jeremy C it made no difference whatsoever.
We are clearly blessed with some brilliant politicians in Cheshire East. Unfortunately many of them care more about politics than our health and well-being. Councillor of the hour was clearly James Barber who spoke passionately about road danger; Macclesfield is fortunate to have him.
So residents of Cheshire East will not be getting any 20 mph zones any time soon and can look forward to continued noisy, smelly and dangerous roads with cars coming by at 30mph, so good luck trying to cross the road on foot or in a wheelchair. That’s politics for you or, as one councillor called it, democracy.