Plans to reverse 20mph speed limits in two Southampton roads have come under fire.

Earlier this month city council leader Cllr Lorna Fielker confirmed the intention for Hill Lane and Shirley Road to return to 30mph.

This came just two years after the rollout of the 20mph limits.

Conservative councillor Sarah Powell-Vaughan questioned why the administration had decided to reverse its decision and if there were similar proposals for any other roads.

Speaking at the council meeting on May 15, cabinet member for transport Eamonn Keogh said a review was being carried out after concerns were raised in relation to the 20mph limit in Hill Lane and Shirley Road.

“We are concluding that review,” Cllr Keogh said. “We will go ahead with bringing forward a road traffic order to look at whether or not we lift the speed limits on those two roads.

“Those are the only two roads at the moment that we will be assessing and we have no plans to look at any other roads at this time.”

Cllr Powell-Vaughan asked the cabinet member what evidence was used to expand the 20mph rollout when Labour took control of the council in 2022.

Cllr Keogh said the administration’s view was that it was much easier for motorists to abide by one limit in an area rather than having 20mph side roads and a 30mph main road.

He added that his view was 20mph limits were about “encouraging motorists to drive closer than 20 than they will to 30”.

“That is what the evidence has shown right throughout the city and that is what the review will show,” Cllr Keogh said. “That 20mph limits have encouraged motorists to slow down and that’s really important.

“The whole point of 20mph limits are they are encouraging us to respect the fact that we share a space and if we all abide by a Highway Code then we will all be better off.”

Cllr Powell-Vaughan said the reversal shows the Labour administration was wrong to include the roads in the 20mph rollout and putting them back to 30mph would create an additional cost to the taxpayer.

She said the Highway Code was about abiding by speed limits rather than driving closer and still above a speed limit.

Conservative group leader Cllr Peter Baillie said Cllr Keogh’s comments had led to him asking if the 20mph limits were enforceable.

The cabinet member replied: “Ideally, we would like everyone to drive at 20mph. Realistically, the difficulty we will have is the enforcement.

“We don’t have the powers to enforce necessarily the 20. The police do have the powers to enforce the 20 but unfortunately we have a police service that is chronically underfunded and has been chronically starved of resource and they are not able to support that.

“This is about behavioural change. We don’t always need to be forced to do something to know that it is the right thing to do and 20mph limits are the right thing to do from a safety point of view.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Sam Chapman said roads in Bassett and other parts of the city were still waiting to have a 20mph limit introduced.

Cllr Keogh said there were budget issues and central government needed to provide more money for these schemes because they were popular with residents.