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Councillors have voted to approve “the principle of introducing 20mph speed restrictions where appropriate” in Cheshire East towns following farcical scenes, writes Ethan Davies.

Members debated the motion during the authority’s full council meeting yesterday (December 16) — the third to be held virtually.

There were discussions including three amendments, bitter words exchanged, and some councillors not being aware of what they were voting on.

At the culmination of proceedings, Cllr Mike Hunter said: “I am flabbergasted. It has been a travesty.

“If I was a member of the public I would never vote in a local election again.

“I am really, really unhappy on how this has gone.

“All this has done is take hours and hours to prove a political point.”

The motion, originally proposed by CEC’s cycling and walking champion Cllr Suzie Akers Smith, sought to lend council support to “introducing a default 20mph speed limit” on residential roads.

However, this was quickly amended by Labour Cllr Laura Crane to include a provision that the proposals be examined by the borough’s 2021 speed management strategy.

Cllr Akers Smith accepted the amended motion.

But another amendment was proposed by Conservative Cllr Janet Clowes which altered the terminology from “speed limits” to “speed zones”.

It also sought to set up a cross-party working group to examine the plans.

In law, a “speed limit” means a stretch of road where there is a change to the maximum permitted speed motorists can travel at. This requires new signage.

‘Speed zones’ also include traffic-calming measures, such as speed humps and chicanes.

After much debate on the second amendment, it was defeated narrowly, 39 votes to 37.

That vote was swiftly followed by members voting on whether or not to continue debate on the original motion with Cllr Crane’s changes.

That provided scope for Liberal Democrat Cllr Phil Williams to propose a third alteration — and saw the word “speed limit” to “speed restrictions” to provide “wriggle room” for the upcoming highways committee.

This committee will be introduced in May 2021 when CEC moves to a committee system, when examining the issue.

After initially rejecting Cllr William’s amendment, Cllr Akers Smith accepted it, with the motion passing by a clear majority.

In all, the episode took more than two and a half hours to resolve, and saw Cllr Hunter being shouted at by an unknown attendee to “come on” when casting his vote on Cllr Clowes’ amendment.

This was confounded by Cllr Alift Harewood telling the chair she had unwittingly voted in favour of the same amendment, but she was unable to change it as her ballot had already been cast.

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