Wales’ 20mph law due to ‘small-country syndrome’ compensating for ‘feelings of insignificance’ claims Telegraph
Wales’ new law that will allow councils to set a 20mph speed limit as a default option in urban areas is due to “small-country syndrome” according to a Telegraph columnist.
Journalist Sally Jones said that such “devolution derangement” was “designed to compensate for the leadership’s feelings of insignificance”.
Wales become the first UK nation to make the move towards a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas yesterday, in a move that the Welsh Government said would help to save lives, develop safer communities, improve the quality of life and encourage more people to ride a bike or use public transport.
Sally Jones said that “whole boroughs of London and swathes of other towns and cities in the UK are being colonised” by 20mph limits, but turned her wrath in particular on the Welsh Government.
“Wales is one of the most deprived areas of Europe, where, thanks to inadequate public transport, cars are vital for many workers, yet the scheme’s proponents still trot out the usual arguments,” she said.
She cited a recent Department for Transport survey claiming that cutting the urban speed limit to 20mph caused no “significant change” in casualty rates, and that 87 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit on weekdays.
“This shocking statistic suggests that imposing the new limit could well criminalise the majority of Welsh drivers, who feel themselves quite capable of driving safely at 30mph, thank you very much, and resent their leaders’ bossy style,” she said.
“It demonstrates this Left-wing Welsh government’s passion for controlling every aspect of citizens’ lives, and is symptomatic of ‘devolution derangement’ – a specifically Welsh version of small-country syndrome, designed to compensate for the leadership’s feelings of insignificance.”
The new slower speed limits are currently being trialled in eight communities across Wales and will be rolled out nationally in September 2023.
The new legislation will not apply a blanket speed limit on all roads, it will simply make the default limit 20mph, leaving local authorities to engage with the local community to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.
Currently, just 2.5% of Welsh roads have a speed limit of 20mph, but from next year this is expected to increase to approximately 35%, helping to create safer roads and communities across Wales.
Last week travel campaigners urged the Senedd to back the plans, highlighting research which shows that pedestrians are 40 per cent less likely to die when hit by a car travelling at 20mph compared with one travelling at 30mph.
A survey conducted by the Welsh Government last November also found that 80 per cent of participants supported the plans, in particular parents or those with children in the household.
Backing the new speed limit, Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive of the campaign group Living Streets, described the plans as “life-changing legislation”.
“When the speed limit is reduced from 30mph to 20mph there is typically an average decline in casualties of at least 20%,” he said.
“There are also benefits in terms of reduced noise and safer and more cohesive communities that are more pleasant to live in. People are also likely to be encouraged to walk or cycle more, which is good for their health and pollution levels.
“It’s simple: slower speeds save lives – and I urge Members of the Senedd to support the 20mph in the vote.”
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