Emergency workers ‘must keep to 20mph limit’
A new row has broken out over the default 20mph speed limit on Welsh roads as it became clear that emergency workers would have to obey the limit when driving to their place of work even if they were due to respond to an emergency.
More than 466,000 people have signed a petition to “rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law” – the highest number of signatures for any petition submitted to the Senedd since it was established in its former guise as the National Assembly for Wales in 1999.
In a letter to Deputy Transport Minister Lee Waters, Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “I have been contacted by someone from the emergency services who is concerned about the impact of the new 20mph on emergency service workers.
“The person I spoke to was under the impression that retained firefighters and lifeboat service volunteers will be expected to drive at the 20mph limit even if they are travelling to the fire station or lifeboat station to deal with an emergency call.
“I am certain this cannot be correct. Lives would be put at risk if emergency service workers on call outs are expected to drive at 20mph. I thought I would write to you publicly so that you could clarify the situation.”
Mr Waters responded: “Thank you for your letter on behalf of someone from the emergency services raising their concerns about the impact of the 20mph speed limit on emergency service workers.
“I can confirm we have consulted with the Police, Welsh Ambulance Service and Fire and Rescue Services in Wales, all of whom are in favour of the new 20mph limits as a means of reducing road traffic fatalities and serious injuries in our communities.
“I appreciate there are concerns regarding whether the change will affect on-call response times. However, they live and work at various locations across Wales and their response times vary accordingly. Not all of them will travel exclusively by car nor will commute solely on roads where the 20mph limit will be applied.
“Therefore, we do not foresee the default 20mph limit adversely affecting overall response times. This will of course be kept under review and we will continue to liaise with the emergency services and offer assistance where required.”
Mr Davies issued a statement which said: “It’s becoming clearer by the day that the Labour Welsh Government has thrown together its 20mph rollout without any serious thought or consideration.
“Labour’s latest 20mph debacle now involves firefighters and lifeboat service volunteers, who are concerned about the severe effect on-call response times could potentially be hit by.
“Waiting lists in Wales are already the worst in the UK – and volunteers are concerned that the new default speed limit will hamper the time it takes them to reach the appropriate building to then assist in an emergency.
“Labour’s recent action is a classic example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.”
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