Schools will be able to ‘opt in’ for 20mph zones in surrounding roads under plans approved by councillors this evening.

Members of a task and finish group that looked at the success of the lower speed limits had unanimously recommended their wider use across the borough.

And members of the council’s cabinet committee tonight approved the proposals, which will effectively give primary and secondary schools automatic approval for 20mph zone applications, though opposing residents will be able to make their own representations.

Groups of residents can also band together and apply for a new limit on their own roads under the new proposals, and applications will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Councillor Kate Salinger, who headed the task and finish group, said the statistics on fatalities and road safety meant the positive impact of 20mph zones were in her view “immeasurable”.

The cross-party group spent four weeks looking at lower speed limits in other boroughs and assessing the arguments for and against them.

The Conservative cabinet this evening voted to approve all of the recommendations put forward by the panel, making future applications for 20mph speed limits easier for schools and residents.

Councillor Salinger said: “I’m delighted. The borough’s safety record will improve. This is a victory for the parents at schools that have campaigned for 20mph zones, but we were never against them, it just never came up as an issue before.”