Welsh Government will ‘rue the day’ they introduced ‘mad’ 20mph speed limits claims Conservative newspaper
A Telegraph columnist has warned that the Welsh Government will “rue the day” they introduced “mad” 20mph speed limits, wrongly claiming that they are “abolishing” the 30mph speed limit.
Iain Dale, a British broadcaster, author and political commentator, is the latest columnist from the Conservative-leaning newspaper to take aim at the 20mph speed limit.
The Telegraph has waged a war of words against Wales’ 20mph speed limit over the last few weeks with the newspaper describing it as a sign of “small-country syndrome”, “devolution derangement” and “designed to compensate for the leadership’s feelings of insignificance”.
Wales became the first UK nation to make a move towards a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas last month, 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.
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.
However, Iain Dale wrongly claimed that the Welsh Government were “abolishing 30mph limits and replacing them with 20mph zones”.
“It’s fine to put lower speed limits outside schools or old people’s homes, or even on busy shopping streets where people cross the road more often, but to impose them on a dual carriageway or main A-road is the transport equivalent of political correctness gone mad,” he said.
“I know transport planners have a job to do, but to constantly kow-tow to the anti-car brigade, as many local authorities have been doing without even consulting the public, is not just infuriating, it is counter-productive.”
He added that “national politicians in Wales will rue the day they introduced this mad policy”.
Last month, in the same newspaper, journalist Sally Jones said that such “devolution derangement” was “designed to compensate for the leadership’s feelings of insignificance”.
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.”
Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive of the campaign group Living Streets, has however backed the plans, describing them 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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