‘Criminal damage’ - 20mph sign defaced as council looks to roll out new speed limits

Other signs have reportedly been covered by stickers or blacked out as locals follow the lead of ULEZ protestors in London.
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A 20mph zone sign near a Wirral school has been vandalised as the council looks to roll out controversial new lower speed limits in residential areas.

The sign is situated on Alton Road in Birkenhead near Birkenhead High School Academy was vandalised sometime before October 4. It has been in place since 2016, according to Oxton councillor Allan Brame.

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The vandalism follows reports of similar incidents across the Wirral as its council looks to implement new 20mph speed limits. It is currently finishing off a rollout of the first phase on 1,700 roads while moving forward with a second phase on more roads.

The policy faces a key vote on October 9 as the Conservatives have put forward a motion calling for a review of the policy as well as a potential pause on the rollout of the second phase. The first phase passed with unanimous support.

Reports of vandalism were first raised at an environment and transport committee meeting on September 20 when Ken Ferguson from political party Reform UK said “considerable anger has been expressed” over the policy as a consultation had found residents were largely opposed to the new speed limits.

He added: “I’ve seen signage covered by stickers and I understand that others have even been blacked out as Wirral residents follow the lead of ULEZ protestors in London.”

Vandalised 20mph sign. Photo: Edward LambVandalised 20mph sign. Photo: Edward Lamb
Vandalised 20mph sign. Photo: Edward Lamb
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He then asked chair of the committee Cllr Liz Grey if she “realised these would be the consequences” if the council moved forward with the policy.

“Nothing less than criminal damage”

In response, Cllr Grey said: “Criminal damage to the newly installed signs at a small number of locations has been reported to council officers who have in turn reported this to the police. The vandalised signs will be repaired or replaced.”

Cllr Allan Brame whose ward the sign sits in said: “Whatever you may think about 20 mph speed limits, this sort of vandalism is nothing less than criminal damage. Cleaning or replacing the sign will have to be paid for out of our council tax.

“This sign, by the Birkenhead High School Academy, is there to keep girls safe when they are crossing the road to get to school. It was installed seven years ago. Who on earth thinks putting pupils’ safety at risk is in any way justified?”

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Bebington Cllr Edward Lamb who spotted and reported the vandalised sign to Wirral Council said: “I understand that there is some disagreement as to the rights and wrongs of our expanded 20mph rollout on Wirral, but it’s really disappointing to see some stoop to the level of defacing signs like this.

“There is general agreement the lower speed limits near schools are a no-brainer, so this was a particularly poor place to protest given the proximity to Birkenhead High School.”

He added: “I have reported the damage to Wirral Council and look forward to it being repaired, but it’s worth remembering that the cost of this unnecessary work falls on all residents of Wirral.”

Merseyside Police were approached for comment.

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