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20mph petition ‘demolished’ by campaign group that supports the change

27 Dec 2023 10 minute read
A 20mph speed limit sign. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

The group that campaigned for a default 20mph speed limit in Wales has produced a devastating critique of the petition against the limit that has attracted more than 467,000 signatures.

20’s Plenty for us has gone through the petition line by line, pointing out serious factual errors and statements based on disputable opinion.

Rod King, the founder and campaign director of 20’s Plenty, said: “On the face of it this seems a lot, but when put into the national perspective of implementing 20mph across the whole of Wales then such a level of response is predictable. Any petition bringing together those who oppose 20mph limits for residential roads, those who oppose Welsh Labour or simply are critical of particular roads was bound to attract a large number of signatures.

“An analysis of the petition statement shows that it is so flawed in presenting its case that whilst accepting it has attracted a large number of signatures, it cannot be used as any credible basis for any variation in government policy.

“20’s Plenty for us believe that the Welsh Government and local authorities should be congratulated for delivering this life-enhancing and life-preserving 20mph initiative for the people of Wales which does have wide public support.”

In a Q&A section on its website, the group dissects the petition in detail.

Disastrous

Petition: We want the Welsh Government to rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law.

Response: “Disastrous” is an opinion. Different people see 20mph in different ways. The change will benefit 500,000 Welsh children, 300,000 Welsh households with no access to a car and 600,000 Welsh people with concessionary travel passes Every indication from both the trials and the actual results after implementation are that speeds have reduced by a significant amount and match the intention of Senedd.

Petition: The new 20mph law is coming into force on the 17th September and it will mark the end of having socialism in power in Wales.

Response: While the change in the national default speed limit for restricted roads from 30mph to 20mph came in on 17th September, the view that this will “end socialism” is speculation and opinion. Although that may be the petitioner’s aspiration, 20mph limits have been implemented by councils of all political colours. There is no evidence of “17th September marking the end of having socialism in power in Wales.” Hence this is a “false statement”

Petition: Welsh Government claim to have supporting evidence stating that reducing to 20mph EVERWHERE saves lives! Yet we get flyers merely claiming that it will, and opinions from doctors that see RTCs coming into A&E. This is NOT evidence. The only true evidence is from Belfast and it states it makes NO DIFFERENCE to RTCs!

Response: There is no plan to implement 20mph “everywhere”. In covering “restricted roads” in built-up areas it automatically excludes unrestricted 40mph roads, and 30mph roads without lighting. Local Highway Authorities are fully empowered to set local exceptions and, in anticipating the change, have excluded many roads so that they remain at 30mph. There is credible and strong evidence from many authorities in the UK that 20mph limits reduce casualties and protect loss of life.

This includes Edinburgh, Bristol, London, Warrington, Calderdale, Cheshire West and Chester. There is already strong evidence from elsewhere that 20mph and 30km/h limits reduce casualties. The small city-centre 20mph limit in Belfast covered just 76 roads, including 26 that were pedestrianised with motor vehicles excluded. Since those roads had mean speeds before implementation of less than 20mph and few casualties, it is inevitable that speeds and casualties would not reduce further.

Belfast’s implementation is a poor example and is completely different to the Welsh implementation of 20mph as a national “default”. To say that it is “The only true evidence” is not credible. The statement that “The only true evidence is from Belfast” is a “false statement”.

Petition: At least one of the trial villages in Monmouthshire actually reverted their trial because it was causing absolute carnage on the roads! Mark Drakeford has come out claiming it is a success in St Brides Major but every time I go though there NO ONE is driving at 20mph.

Response: In one of Monmouthshire’s pilot villages a decision was made to retrospectively make 3 sections of roads an exception. This aligned it with the Exceptions Guidance which was publicised after the pilot commenced. The comment about St Brides is anecdotal. The interim report from the Welsh Government shows a significant mean speed reduction (from 28.2mph to 24.9mph).

The statement that “At least one of the trial villages in Monmouthshire actually reverted their trial because it was causing absolute carnage on the roads!” is false. The word “carnage” is defined as “the killing of a large number of people.”. Hence its use is both false and provocative.

Evidence

Petition: The Welsh Government has FAILED to produce ANY convincing evidence to support these claims of safety. This law is being spearheaded by the WG Climate Change department and NOT Health & Safety!! YOU HAVE NOT LISTENED TO US.

Response: As above, there is much evidence that is referenced by the Welsh Government. “The state of the evidence on 20mph speed limits with regards to road
safety, active travel and air pollution impacts”.

And “Explanatory Memorandum to the Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Wales) Order 2022” The responsibility for transport and setting national speed limits lies within the Department for Climate Change. This is entirely reasonable. The benefits of lower limits accrue to many departments including Health and Education and aligns with government requirements such as Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

The Welsh Government has conducted due consultation and evaluation of public attitudes to 20mph limits over many years. The most recent results are available on the Welsh Government website 20mph public attitudes research. The statement “The Welsh Government has FAILED to produce ANY convincing evidence to support these claims of safety. ” is false.

Foolish

Petition: The Welsh Government was put there BY THE PEOPLE OF WALES, We are your boss! We demand that this foolish idea be stopped.

Response: This fails to understand the principle of parliamentary democracy whereby elected representatives set laws on behalf of all their constituents. These include those voting and not voting or eligible to vote. Nevertheless, 60% of people in Wales voted in the 2021 Senedd election for parties that had a national 20mph default limit in their election manifestos. It has followed all due democratic processes through Senedd, including:

2018 Debate launched with cross party support.

2019/2020 Action by the government 20mph Task Force to develop recommendations to proceed with national default 20mph implementation planning.

2020 Approval by Senedd to proceed (45 votes to 6).

2022 Approval by Senedd of Statutory Instrument to set national 20mph limit for restricted roads (39 votes to 15)

Andrew RT Davies with Rod King. Picture by @20splentyforus / Twitter

Mr King said: The petition statement fails to meet any test of whether it is accurate or factual. It misleads potential signatories with anecdotes and comments which are false. It is difficult to see how Members of Sened could take this petition seriously. Once the petition reached 10,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee is able to ask the petitioner if they wish to close the petition and the committee can then make a decision as to whether this should be debated in the Senedd. In this case we understand that the petitioner has requested that the petition run its full course and be available till March 2024.

“To date it has attracted more than 465,000 signatures. While this is, at first sight, a lot, indeed a record – for a Senedd petition, it is not unexpected, particularly taking into account how the debate has been highly politicised on social media.

“Of the 461,014 signatures, 27,139 were from outside Wales, including Canada (28), Falkland Islands, Ireland (50), USA (59), Northern Ireland (158), Scotland (984) and England (25,512). So how does this Welsh count of 433,865 signatures compare with the Welsh adult population? In 2019 the population was 3.136 million. Of these 500,000 were children leaving a net 2.636 million adults. Hence 16% of the adult population of Wales have signed the petition. We suggest that there are three reasons for signing:

A. Those who do not support 20mph for residential areas

What we know from successive UK-wide surveys on transport attitudes conducted by the UK Government is that 71% of people support 20mph for residential streets whilst 14% oppose it. Hence it is reasonable to suggest that those 14% would be inclined to sign a “click and share” petition when a 20mph has been implemented as a “default” for built-up areas across Wales. This contingent would make up 369,040 (14% of 2.636 million) and would comprise 85% of the petition signatures received so far.

B. Those who do not support the current government.

A large number of the petition ‘shares’ on social media are politically motivated. They refer to the change specifically as “blanket” rather than “default”. We know from the 2021 Senedd election results that a total of 289,802 people voted for the Welsh Conservatives, plus a further 8,586 for UKIP. Both of these parties now oppose the national 20mph default. While some may be included in A above, there will be motivation from many supporters of these parties to sign a petition that opposes what the Welsh Government has done regardless of the benefits to the population as a whole.

C. Those who support 20mph but are unhappy with the way it has been implemented.

The national change involved many thousands of roads and signage, including both boundary signs and signs within communities. It would always have been impossible to make all of these changes co-incidentally without huge additional resources in local authorities. It was inevitable and unavoidable that some signage would be contradictory and result in drivers not being fully aware of the limit on certain roads. This in turn led to many drivers incorrectly keeping to 20mph on roads which had been excepted at 30mph. This would have led to many criticising the implementation of the 20mph default whilst at the same time agreeing with its intention. We note that the police in Wales have said that they will focus on educating drivers, rather than issuing speeding tickets during the initial implementation phase.

“Given the scale and complexity of this change, the numbers signing the petition are not surprising. The scale of misinformation and falsehoods both within and surrounding the petition statement, together with the politicising of the issue devalues it to the extent that it is meaningless as a basis for considering public opinion. The petition tells us what is already known, that many drivers would prefer to drive faster than what is appropriate, safe or considerate for many of the under-protected on community streets – the very people who will benefit most from the national default 20mph limit. It could be said that this actually endorses the need for the speed limit change.

“It reflects one side of public opinion on an issue that has majority support and minority, but significant and noisy, opposition. Given the total population of Wales and the petition statement flaws the number of signatures is neither surprising nor indicative of a need to change policy.

“We believe the Welsh Government and local authorities should be congratulated for delivering this life-enhancing and life-preserving 20mph initiative for the people of Wales which does have wide public support. Members of the Senedd should recognise the flaws, misinformation and lack of evidence in this petition when considering whether it is worthy of debate in the Senedd.”


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Notttabottt
Notttabottt
1 month ago

It started out more outside Wales than in, and when people pointed that out, suddenly most of the signees were in Wales, or so they said, odd that. I found several twitter and facebook posts discussing Welsh post codes to use to pretend to be in Wales.

Not saying I fully with how it was implemented, but the petition isnt worth a thing, it was botted

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Notttabottt

I have a cousin who lives in Kent, who admits signing the petition using the post code of her late fathers house in Wales.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Notttabottt

A comforting narrative. Not true however.

Vance Grffiths
Vance Grffiths
1 month ago
Reply to  Notttabottt

If we’re talking about people outside Wales having a say, doesn’t Rod king Iive in England, not one person mentioned on the 20s plenty site has a Welsh address. How many people does Mr King report to speak for, do they live in wales?
Must be my imagination that anything pro ssenedd view gets a disproportionate amount of publicity. No mention of the billions of pounds this policy is costing our country and that’s only what the ssenedd is owning up to.

Neil
Neil
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Grffiths

Billions? Where’s your evidence? Once again extreme unfounded comments do not help the discussion

Jonathan Stanway
Jonathan Stanway
1 month ago
Reply to  Neil

The Welsh Governments own assessment states it could cost the Welsh economy over £4.5 billion over the next 30 years

Not unfounded comments, the Welsh Governments estimate

Gary Street
Gary Street
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Grffiths

Agreed

Gary Street
Gary Street
1 month ago
Reply to  Notttabottt

I’m yet to meet anyone who thinks 20’s plenty is Great. Only non drivers push bike lovers in white socks Jesus sandles and tree huggers support it.

Ian Phillips
Ian Phillips
1 month ago

About time someone did a line by line take down of this petition.
I took one look and it immediately struck me as nothing more than an incoherent semi-literate rant

Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Phillips

Same. It was atrociously written. Good to see this reported though

Bethan
Bethan
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Phillips

It reads like it was written by a very hotheaded individual. It’s that GB News/ Piers Morgan mentality that the louder and more aggressively you say something, the more right you are. I can’t say I have time for it. If a cool and collected petition based on considered and valid counterarguments had been put forward I would say ‘fair enough. Let people state their case and present it to government with dignity and respectability’. It’s when people resort to this huffy-puffy, blood-pressure raising, bullish barking that lets me know that they can’t possibly have a valid argument. Especially when… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

Ah, I see … the same tactic as Brexit. Tell everyone they’re wrong un’s for not agreeing with the progressive consensus. That worked well didn’t it. Still experiencing the majority ignoring the limit and it’s not being enforced. Shambles.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

The groupthink is very bad on this one. I’ll just point this one little fact out – polls are showing as many people want to abolish the Senedd as want an independent Wales, if not more. Now you can all stamp your feet as much as you like and insist that you have the high ground, but it will do nothing to persuade people to agree with you – in fact it does the very opposite. Be as asinine as you like. I will continue to say the truth. This law and its implementation has been a poorly supported botch… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

This debate reminds me of the time Jeremy Corbyn proclaimed that his Labour party had “won the arguments”. I liked Corbyn. I genuinely did. He didn’t win any General Election though did he …

You might all think your narrative is true. You might think some critique to “take the petition apart.” You have all missed the point entirely. The progressive pro-Cymru constituency has been caught in the binary argument trap, sucked into playing the right wing Britnat game on their terms and is losing touch with the ordinary person. A politically dangerous place to be AFAIC.

Ap Kenneth
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

You can apply that logic to many traffic laws, just look at the huge numbers you can see daily using mobile phones in cars, calling holding the phone or on social media, when that has been illegal since 2003 and now carries points as well. People do not judge Governments on one law and any new governments will find it hard to reverse when the health and safety implications are obvious – you can see the headlines. Yes it was a big culture shift but one that time will heal especially when it is gathering pace elsewhere eg Wirral recently… Read more »

Robin Lynn
Robin Lynn
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Hmmm…Brexit….how’s that going?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

When the war on the motorist is led from No10, the Cons cannot talk, then they saw a win at Uxbridge (which was a massive lose of Tory votes and they limped home by a slim margin), then they saw this as a way to wedge an issue for a vote. I bet the comms backchannel on WhatsApp were abuzz with push this and just in case this is the delete all messages button )cons are good at losing messages “accidentally”. My insurance costs, fear of parking cowboys if you look at a parking space the wrong way, insurance, repairs,… Read more »

TonyG
TonyG
1 month ago

If Mr King believes that the thoughts of anyone outside of Wales should not be included in the petition count (I would argue those living in Border towns, for instance, are also affected) then by his methodology this entire counter argument to this petition should be dismissed too – he lives in England after all!!! On a more serious note 443,047 voted for Labour at the last Senedd election and I strongly suspect not all of them did so purely because of a 15 word promise on page 31 of the Labour manifesto. The Welsh registered signatories to this position… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

As someone whose family members have been injured in road traffic accidents as children found the petition against the 20mph default speed limit and its signatories disingenuous, politically motivated rather than fact-based and informed. And I found as with the Brexit the debate a croc of lies told.by those with a narrow political agenda who used disinformation, misinformation leading to Welsh Government ministers being doorstepped, and in some cases, even recieving death threats for a law passed intended to save lives. Absolutely below contempt. And anyone culpable is Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies who for months on social media have… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Sorry but this is conspiracy theory grade nonsense. RT has jumped on a bandwagon because it suits him. You are ascribing way too much influence to that bloviated oaf. The problem is that the pro-indy/devo support is reacting in a “rally-to-the-flag” binary fashion. That plays straight into the hands of the anti-Senedd mob. It’s actually worse than what RTD2 is doing on this particular matter. Same mistakes as “Remain” during Brexit.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I am sorry for your loss. This is precisely the reason why we need to reduce the speed, to save our lives and, to a lesser extent, to improve the quality of people’s lives. Many more children will be able to safely play in the streets. Thank you for telling the truth. The reasons for opposing these changes to speed limits in the petition are anecdotal, fatuous and in some cases bare faced lies. I’m glad someone has taken the propaganda purveyors to task and exposed them for the liars and cretins that they are. Propaganda purveyors have always sort… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

I wish the Welsh government and councils had used the £millions spent to start providing a decent public transport system, particularly bus services. Give people a choice of transport before changing speed limits and cutting down on road space by laying down, mostly hardly used, cycle lanes.
Your lucky if you can ever go more than 20mph on Cardiffs gridlocked roads.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

As with public transport Drakeford’s regime is guilty of putting a cart before the horse in this case. Had his government enforced a ban on parking on pavements in Wales the need for a new speed limit in congested areas would have been dramatically reduced. Roadside parking would force a slower traffic movement especially where we see rows of parked cars on both sides of some suburban roadways, as happens around start and finish times in local junior schools. As things stand we still have a serious pavement parking problem that reduces pedestrians, people with kids in pushchairs, and adults… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

I don’t have an opinion either way about 20 MPH. However, I think the problem that has emerged is that the policy was rolled out without enough consultation with the public, and as a result, and despite it’s good intentions, it has clearly angered a lot of people. I hope the WG learn from this.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Williams
Karl
Karl
1 month ago

People are moaning, but not obeying the 20mph change. In fact the people moaning never did 30 when that was the speed limit. Bunch of arrogant fools with no morality.

Ap Kenneth
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Yes DoT figures showed that 50% in 2022 break the 30 mph limit on free flowing roads.
https://roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/50-of-drivers-exceed-speed-limit-on-30mph-roads/

A Evans
A Evans
1 month ago

467,000 votes opposing the 20 mph nationwide, while the Senedd said that a selected 1,000 poll was used to rubber stamp this farce. “The majority of people in Wales are for this 20mph law”…..Then hold a referendum on it! If you are so certain! Thought not! Words are cheap when fighting a battle, back them up with votes!!!!!

A Evans
A Evans
1 month ago

Can the Senedd detail all the deaths they are quoting as saleable. I would like to see how these deaths occurred….How many were pedestrians fault, how many were car driver’s faults, how many deaths were caused be speeding OVER the then existing limits & finally were these deaths in heavily populated areas or rural areas?

Brian Arthur
Brian Arthur
1 month ago

‘devastating critique of the petition’ and ‘serious factual errors and statements based on disputable opinion’ Well if that’s what you’ve found then you must ask the Welsh Government to reconsider their 20mph policy. Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were agreeing with the Office for Statistics Regulation that criticised the Welsh Government’s lack of transparency over this matter. Or the dubious ‘academic’ surveys with questions weighted against users of vehicles, those most affected by this policy. Surveys overwhelmingly considering the opinions of the minority road users with questions similar to ‘Would you rather be struck by a car travelling at 20mph or… Read more »

Archamedies
Archamedies
1 month ago

Let’s put that to the vote then shall we and see what the outcome is , I’ll wait

John
John
1 month ago

I have spoken to so many people since this blanket 20mph came into effect and not one of them agrees with it. Slow down outside schools and busy pedestrian areas but that’s it.
There was a petition in favour of the new speed limit and it never reached more than 12000 votes.

Far too many are against this limit. This article is nothing more than those running scared because they know they support a limit that the majority are against .

Last edited 1 month ago by John
Elen Wade
Elen Wade
1 month ago

This issue should be settled by direct democracy, namely a referendum with no postal voting allowed.

Simon Hughes
Simon Hughes
1 month ago

Why is the evidence being ignored? Bad law will always fall! This is an example of bad law based on selective evidence and dubious statistics which have already fallen due to the intervention of the Office For National Statistics identifying these flaws? The selected use of foreign statistics, using the implementation in Spain of its 20mph speed limit policy, during the 2020 covid lockdown. They revisited these statistics for 2021 – 2022and found an increase of 4% fatalities within these 20mph speed zones? But of course to the zealots who push these agendas their truth is is always different to… Read more »

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