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Godfather of 20mph limits says Senedd petition breaks rules

07 Nov 2023 8 minute read
The record breaking petition has reached over 465,000 signatures.

Emily Price

The founder of a campaign to introduce 20mph speed limits in built-up areas has claimed the petition opposing Wales’ new default limit breaks Senedd petition rules.

With more than 465,000 signatures the petition asking the Welsh government to “rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law” is the most signed petition in Senedd history.

But, Rod King, campaign director of the group, ‘20’s Plenty for Us‘ says credibility shouldn’t be given to the large number of signatories because the basis of the petition breaks several Senedd petition rules.

Mr King heads the not-for-profit organisation which campaigns for slower speed limits in residential areas across the UK.

He told Nation.Cymru that Members of the Senedd should recognise the “flaws, misinformation and lack of evidence” included in the petition’s details.

Mr King has written an online briefing in which he lays out why he believes Senedd petition rules have been broken.

He claims this is because the details contain potentially false or defamatory statements as well as using language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative.

The petition, which was started by Mark Baker, claims the new 20mph law will “mark the end of having socialism in power in Wales.”

But Mr King, who has been described as the ‘Godfather’ of 20mph speed limits, has argued that this is “false” because there is “no evidence” to back the statement up.

The petition states: “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!”

Mr King says this is also a false statement because in Belfast the 20mph speed limit covered 76 roads, including 26 that were pedestrianised with motor vehicles excluded.

He said: “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 petition also references a 20mph pilot which took place in Monmouthshire. The petitioner claims the 20mph speed limit was “reverted” there because it was causing “absolute carnage on the roads”.

“False statements”

The petition also states: “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.”

The 20’s Plenty for Us founder said this statement is also “false” because during the pilot, a decision was made to retrospectively make 3 sections of roads an exception.

Mr King said: “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 Welsh Government shows a significant mean speed reduction (from 28.2mph to 24.9mph). ”

Mr King also criticised the use of the word “carnage” which he says is both “false and provocative” because the word is defined as “the killing of a large number of people”.

The petition also states that the Welsh Government “FAILED to produce ANY convincing evidence” to support claims that a lower speed limit would be safer because the law has been spearheaded by the department for climate change and not by “health & safety”.

Mr King says this statement is “false” because there is evidence available online from the Welsh Government to support this.

He said: “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.”

Welsh Government ministers have said the new road regulation will result in fewer deaths and save the NHS around £92m every year.

The Welsh government has said the cost of the road regulation rollout is outweighed by casualty prevention savings, including the reduced impact on NHS and emergency services.

One study estimates these savings could be up to £92m every year. But it has been met with both support and fierce opposition.

“Flaws”

Speaking to Nation.Cymru, Mr King said: “It is known from successive assessments of public opinion over many years that a community-enhancing 20mph limit for residential streets is supported by 71% of the public with 14% opposing.

“Whilst the Welsh 20mph default with local authority exceptions will benefit 500,000 children, 300,000 households without a car and 600,000 people holding concessionary travel passes, it was bound to attract opposition.

“A click and share petition that misinforms as much as this one can be expected to collect many signatures when 20mph is implemented on  a national scale.

“Whilst the number signing is significant, it is not surprising and it should not impact policy. Members of Senedd should recognise the flaws, misinformation and lack of evidence in this petition when considering whether it is worthy of debate in Senedd.

“20mph limits in urban areas, including main roads, are being deployed across the world and whilst they may cause some personal inconvenience, have huge benefits to society as a whole.

“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.”

Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar blasted the campaign director for  attempting to “discredit” the petition.

She said: “It is incredibly disappointing to see certain people actively working to discredit this record-breaking petition, which has gained nearly 500,000 signatures in such a short period of time.

“The public are fed up with not being listened to, and this petition highlights just how disgruntled and frustrated they are with Labour’s costly 20mph speed limit scheme – and who can blame them?

“This policy is already affecting people’s journey times, hampering hardworking businesses, slowing our emergency services down, and delivering a £9billion blow to the Welsh economy.

“Instead of admitting this whole thing has been a disaster and scrapping 20mph speed limits, those in support of this ludicrous 20mph project, continue to ignore and quash legitimate concerns.”

A Senedd spokesperson said: “The Senedd receives petitions on a wide variety of subjects. All petitions must comply with the rules set out, known as the determination of the proper form of petitions. In considering petitions we always try to respect the words used by the people who submit them.

“Petitions are submitted by real people – they are not a legal statement – we allow scope for strong statements of opinion. When petitions are looked at by Members of the Senedd Petitions Committee they are provided with rigorously researched briefings before taking any action.”

Petitioner

The petitioner, Mark Baker said: “This ‘data’ is coming from a campaign that has no where near the support that the petition has and I believe they are clutching at straws to discredit it.

“The petition does follow all the rules as it cannot go live without being vetted by the petitions committee at the Senedd. They contacted me prior to it going live to make some changes to its wording as there was some text in there that did breach some rules.

“However, there was no profanity in it. they also did not question the statements made in the petition about the Belfast study or the Monmouthshire reversal so they also took those statements as true.

“I do believe that 20mph has a place on roads that have schools on them. I believe that the Welsh Government have alienated the concept of 20mph with this policy and people will not accept it at all now. The petition has more supporters than Labour does Voters.

“Bath council introduced 20mph zones in 13 areas and in the 12 months since implementing them over half of them are being ignored and there has been no reduction in the amount of fatal RTC’s.

“During the 12 months since Bath installed 20mph zones the rate of people being killed or seriously injured went up in 7 out of 13 areas. Thats 53.8% of the areas doing this in Bath. The article does state that it does NOT bring in any significant reduction on the number of people killed or seriously injured.

“The Spain study did show a reduction in fatalities back in 2019 and 2020, however the reports now show that in 2022 there 1042 fatal incidents on Spanish roads which led to 1145 people dying and 4008 people suffering serious injury. This equates to a 4% INCREASE in deaths.

“The Belfast study that I have read stated that there is no significant reduction in collisions at 20 compared to 30. This study reported that although there was a reduction in RTC’s it was not due to a reduction in speed. it was down to a reduction in volume of vehicles on the road. The zones that changed to 20 were compared to those that stayed at 30 and the result was very little change.

“In my honest opinion, this is a sad attempt to discredit a petition that has garnered so much support that they feel desperate to do all they can to fight it.”


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Annibendod
Annibendod
7 months ago

I dont think this helps. Although Rod King raises some reasonable points about the petitioner and the wording of his petition, he misses the point that to dismiss the views of so many people is unwise. Whether the petitioner is right wing or not is irrelevant in comparison to the numbers in favour of rescinding this law. Surely, at the very least it should produce a moment of reflection? What we have seen is intransigence throughout. What undermines this change is that the Welsh Govt failed to win public opinion before its implementation and further, made matters worse with failing… Read more »

Jonathan Stanway
Jonathan Stanway
7 months ago

Why is it so difficult to address the potential pitfalls of this policy?

This isn’t just about people complaining about inconvenience.

There are genuine concerns about its impact on public transport, congestion, localised increases in emissions, the economy, tourism, inflation, jobs etc.

Rather than try to discredit a petition because you hold a different view can we just concentrate on the issues and do our best to improve safety whilst minimising the downsides

Annibendod
Annibendod
7 months ago

Da iawn. Cytuno’n llwyr. 👏👏👏

Jon
Jon
7 months ago

Spot on mate that is exactly what the loony Drakeford and his cronies have done … welcome to the UK’s first nano state and a current leader that gets angry with all that oppose him.. if you are reading this Mark answer me this ‘ is this democracy??

No to 20mph
No to 20mph
7 months ago

The most signed petition in Senedd history; “let’s completely discredit it because I happen to disagree with it’s point of view and some of its nasty words made me sad”
Sorry Mr King, but in a democratic society the majority share gets it, and sometimes that majority won’t agree with you, and just sometimes they may offend, as is their right.
Take away those rights and socialism DOES in fact end.

CapM
CapM
7 months ago
Reply to  No to 20mph

From what I’ve experienced and heard from others 20mph limits are to a large degree being complied with.
If this compliance continues and there isn’t a big swing to the Tories at the next elections then it’s that which will discredit the “most signed petition in Senedd history”.

The linking of 20mph with socialism is either plain stupid or dishonest as can be attested by the Tory run local authorities that have already introduced 20mph limits.

Annibendod
Annibendod
7 months ago
Reply to  CapM

This is fair comment and on the money – albeit anecdotally, I’ve found that the majority are ignoring the limit. I’ve even followed police vehicles that are not abiding by the limit.

Richard Huw Morgan
Richard Huw Morgan
7 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

What!!! Even police breaking the rules, surely that never happens…oh, wait a minute…

Tim Saunders
Tim Saunders
7 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

A dilyn y rhesymeg yma, man a man i ni ddiddymu’r Deddfau Dwyn.

Gavin
Gavin
7 months ago

If you want to talk about dubious facts and mis-information then look no further than the WAG and Welsh Labour.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin

Yes, criticise Welsh Labour, I encourage you, but please get your facts right. The acronym “WAG” (Welsh Assembly Government) ended on May 6th 2020 when the institution was renamed Senedd Cymru (Welsh Parliament ) after a 618 year hiatus with the Senedd and Election ( Wales) Act. The act also gave Welsh 16 & 17 year olds and qualified foreign nationals the right to vote in Senedd elections unlike their English counterparts who are stuck in the democratic dark ages of “first past the post” Westminster centrism where English teenagers can procreate, die in wars, drive vehicles , but don’t… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Y Cymro
Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin

What have the wives and girlfriends ( WAG ) of Labour got to do with this?

Last edited 7 months ago by Gareth
karl
karl
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin

What has the England football teams spouses got to do with it?

Colin Thomas
Colin Thomas
7 months ago

I enjoyed the reference suggesting the Welsh Government had done sufficient consultation, that is incorrect, the Welsh Government just barely did some consultation work. The early survey is consistently quoted as it gave a very high percentage of %80 in favour of 20mph, but the survey asked questions in a specific way to obtain this result and used the term residential and not restricted to describe the roads. The survey was a representative one involving just over 1000 people in November 2020. The report from the survey failed to warn the reader of the flaws in taking the results as… Read more »

TomTom82
TomTom82
7 months ago

Rod King? Sounds like another Sais telling us what to do and chastising us for questioning senedd dogma. Even if half the signatories were fake, it would still be the highest signed petition in senedd history. The fact the senedd itself has opened up petitions regarding Welsh politics to outsiders just proves how moronic our political elites are.
At the end of the day, if you have ears you’ll know exactly how hated this new law is.

oatmaster
oatmaster
7 months ago

Feels a bit cheap to try to discredit the petition on the basis that it is barely coherent and reads as though it’s had multiple cycles through a computer translation engine. People who can barely string a thought together, let alone a sentence, do still have a vote.

Peter
Peter
7 months ago

There are approx 1.5 million drivers in Wales. One third of them signed the petition. It would appear that the Senedd ( who want a Welsh Government to be more accountable to the Welsh people ). Don’t really like it, they just want to tell the rest of us, what to do.

Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Please can you supply the evidence that 1/3 of drivers here signed the petition. I have not seen anything that would support your statement.

Nigel Cuttell
Nigel Cuttell
7 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

What he means is the number of people against 20MPH is equal to 1/3 of the total number of drivers in Wales. Stop splitting hairs!

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter

If there are 1.5 million drivers in Wales, and if all the petition signers were drivers then
it would be correct to say it was one third of those drivers. So, it would be equally correct to say that two thirds of drivers DIDN’T sign the petition and could be happy with 20 mph default. A ratio of 2:1 in favour of the new default.

Naomi
Naomi
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

Coz their all old people hahaha

Keith Woods
Keith Woods
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

or it could mean , like voting in Wales , they couldn’t be bothered+

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
7 months ago

The WG and Senedd do not listen to the people. We would not be talking about this if they did.

Rhodri
Rhodri
7 months ago

I absolutely love the 20mph. It’s not added a second to my 30min commute near Bridgend. I just spend less time sitting at junctions. The roads make less noise too.

Mark Baker
Mark Baker
7 months ago
Reply to  Rhodri

You must be dreaming that!!! Prior to this stupid policy coming my journey home would take 10 to 13 minutes. Now it takes over half an hour!!!

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
7 months ago

It is possible to argue the petitioners have broken the rules by their misleading statements, but now seems a bit late to point that out, because it would have already been scrutinised by the Petitions Committee, and it could be seen as arbitrary to attempt to strike it out now.
I sometimes think that the idea of petitions to parliament is a handy way to redirect dissent into a safely ignorable form.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

The petition has yet to be scrutinised by the Petitions Committee, as the petition sponsor elected to let the petition run its full course of six months. In due course the petition will be scrutinised, and I think the wording will prove crucial.

Lin
Lin
7 months ago

Nobody asked you Rod

Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago

I wonder if the people who support this petition, and claim that the signatories have every right to sign and be counted, from countries
such as Bangladesh,to name just one, would they accept that these people also have the right to come here to live and vote ? If they are good enough to be accepted in the petition and decide our laws,, then they are good enough to live here.

oatmaster
oatmaster
7 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

There’s two from North Korea, what’s their agenda?

oatmaster
oatmaster
7 months ago

I wonder if FOI would get you a list of postcodes and the number of times they were used for that petition. I reckon it’d be quite interesting to see how many were signed from easily Googled commercial postcodes compared to residential areas.

NewYorker
NewYorker
7 months ago

That will suit Gandalf nicely as he’s always looking for an excuse not to address challenge.

Richard 1
Richard 1
7 months ago

My perception is that non-compliance became far more common as soon as the conservatives changed their stance and started to oppose the new limit. Gutter politics, and I’m thinking of the one tory MS rep in my constituency whose latest news letter offers the unsubstantiated opinion that it won’t improve safety on our roads – “in fact, just the opposite as more and more drivers will get frustrated, leading to more overtaking and reckless driving” and “… it could lead to more pollution as vehicles will be on the road longer, at slower speeds where engines are not as efficient.“.

Tim Saunders
Tim Saunders
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Mae Llywodraeth Cernyw, wedi’i ffurfio gan Geidwadwyr Cernyw, yn paratoi i gyflwyno cyfyngiad cyflymder o 20 myh mewn rhai ardaloedd trefol.

Shaun
Shaun
7 months ago

I have not heard anyone complain about the 20mph speed limit, in fact every one is saying how easier it is to cross the road and pull out at junctions, regarding traffic jams, the only ones I have encountered have been caused by road works and lastly the traffic is actually flowing better as very rarely did I get to drive through town at 30mph as traffic jams were being caused by some people going to fast and others too slow, now like I said the traffic flows much better and as for being anti business, I am a self… Read more »

Mark Baker
Mark Baker
7 months ago
Reply to  Shaun

Not true! Everyone I have spoken to says it’s much harder to cross now as cars are no longer leaving gaps. Thus making it more dangerous!

Andy
Andy
7 months ago

If the 20 MPH speed limits save so much money, why are we not going to get a massive reduction in taxes???

Barry Freeman
Barry Freeman
7 months ago

What the government needs to know is that I and many others will never go to Wales to spend my money again while this ridiculous law is in place I am not risking my licence

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Freeman

Fine by me, we could do with a better class of tourist!

M halliday
M halliday
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Freeman

I agree having spent a week in October but will not return. I agree with restricted speeds near schools and like places but found the speed limits ridiculous

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  M halliday

I doubt you’ll be missed.

Tim Saunders
Tim Saunders
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Freeman

Mae cenedl gyfan yn ei dagrau.

Tim Saunders
Tim Saunders
7 months ago

Pwyntiau pwysig yma. Mae’r ddeiseb wedi’i seilio ar gymaint o anwiredd nes bod yn anodd gwybod yn lle mae dechrau.

Jos
Jos
7 months ago

It goes without saying that the slower a vehicle is travelling, the less likely it is that there will be an accident inflicting serious injury or damage. However, If we take this observation to its logical conclusion, there would be a speed limit of 3mph and someone jogging infront of the car waving a red flag! I find it bizarre to see traffic moving like a funeral cortege along A and B roads with good signage and visibility when there are many C roads which criss-cross much of Wales which retain the national 60 mph speed limit. Surely these are… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  Jos

What are you on about? The only roads affected are those in built up areas where the default has been changed from 30mph to 20mph, and A and B roads affected will be so because they are in built up areas that have been designated as needing to be 20mph. It’s hardly likely that overall speeds will be affected that much, and to claim that they will be is, to be blunt, insulting to the intelligence as no small town and even less so village will have enough of a stretch of limited road to make an appreciable difference. In… Read more »

Referendum
Referendum
7 months ago

To say that this is a publicly backed change based on Welsh gov research, that it is supported by 71% of the public is absolute nonsense and as you put it “false data”. Never have I once been asked for my opinion on a change implemented by Welsh gov. But I’m sure the Welsh public would absolutely be up for giving their opinion in a referendum on the matter. If you truly believe the Welsh public back this, then you have nothing to fear.

Hector
Hector
7 months ago

Why is this muppet, sorry, puppet getting media attention at all? The imposition of the blanket 20mph is a complete failure in democracy, and the pig headed leaders of this once bright and beautiful nation are so high on their individual power trips that they refuse to see or hear the national outcry! But, we will NOT FORGET! Enjoy your petty games in the Senedd, your time is running out!

Last edited 7 months ago by Hector
Ian Jones
Ian Jones
7 months ago

Mr King, you give just one usage of the word Carnage. Perhaps it escaped your attention that it is used in several other ways, I will endeavour to give one such example that is widely used AND may indeed be in use in the near future because of Labour’s dismissive attitude toward a sizeable proportion of the electorate. You have no doubt heard it used as such “We are charting a way forward after the Election Day carnage” The First Minister could well be heading for an election car crash, not solely for his 20mph law, more so for his… Read more »

Ian Jones
Ian Jones
7 months ago

I see some difference of opinion regarding the percentage of petition signatories who might be Drivers .. Has it crossed anyone’s mind what percentage of the small number of people that were surveyed by the Welsh Government were actually drivers? Far fewer than those on the petition signed by almost half a million people i dare say, and as a result we have had this 20mph thrust upon us. How can over 400,000 people who are all against the 20mph (100% of the petition) be ignored yet a small survey that has divided opinions be taken serious.y enough to change… Read more »

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