MS fields 100mph questions on 20mph plans

Setting the default speed limit at 20mph in residential roads in Wales will save £100m in the first year alone as deaths and injuries are reduced, according to research.

The Labour-led government is introducing the 20mph speed limit scheme for many roads in residential and built-up areas across Wales in September 2023.
A blanket speed limit on all roads will not be applied but the legislation will make the default limit 20mph, leaving local authorities to engage with communities to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.

The deputy minister for climate change, Lee Waters, said: “The evidence from around the world is very clear – reducing speed limits reduces collisions and saves lives.
“Slower speeds also create a safer and more welcoming environment, giving people the confidence to walk and cycle more, which will help to improve our health and wellbeing and help to improve the environment. As with any change we know it will take time for people to adapt.”

More than 45,000 people have signed a petition against the move and the Welsh Conservatives have called it unworkable.

The report begins with the introduction: The use of 20mph, as part of a Safe Systems approach, is becoming more common across the UK and the rest of the world. Wales is the first country of the UK to make 20mph the default speed limit and it will become law on 17 September 2023. A Welsh Government report has estimated the direct costs of introducing the 20mph blanket to be £32.3M. This report estimates the casualty savings of 20mph, in the first year alone, to be around £100M; three times higher than the implementation costs. However, evidence suggests that the health benefits of 20mph are far, far greater than casualty savings alone. They include increased physical activity, and therefore less obesity, less stress and less anxiety, as well as other health benefits such as reduced noise and air pollution.

The deputy minister for climate change, Lee Waters, said: “The evidence from around the world is very clear – reducing speed limits reduces collisions and saves lives.

“Slower speeds also create a safer and more welcoming environment, giving people the confidence to walk and cycle more, which will help to improve our health and wellbeing and help to improve the environment. As with any change we know it will take time for people to adapt.”

Following the sharing of the Guardian article on his Facebook page Mr Waters was inundated with people commenting.

Geoff Swapp said: “My only concern is that driving at 20 can be frustrating and could result in a lack of concentration. But as someone old enough to remember when compulsory seat belt wearing came in I know how quickly we will adapt, so I’m all in favour.”

Makeup being applied on Sandy Road

The MS responded: “Geoff Swapp it is a big change Geoff and feels weird at first – as did seat belts – but as you say our perception of what is normal will change.”

Geoff Swapp wasn’t joking when he said : “I seen (sic) a woman last week in Dafen sitting at 20 probably on the cruise control doing her makeup with one of them big brushes

Frances Griffiths said: “Having driven in New Zealand where the speed limit is much lower generally, you do get used to it very quickly. I think there will need to be some wider info sharing before it’s implemented. Last week I was verbally abused for driving under 30 in a 30 mega slow is also dangerous.”

Hayley Rees wanted to know what was going to be done about the NHS in Wales. She said: “What will also save pressure on the NHS is sorting the care system out Lee. I have worked in care for 28yrs and I have never seen it so bad.people don’t what to work into care as the work load is ridiculous it is a thankless job and pay is poor. Hayley suggested better pay and more respect and support.”

Colin James said: “My lovely wife had carer’s 4 times a day for the last 3 yrs of her life. They were angels , all of them, but they all loved the job ! Your 100% right poor pay, lots of travelling, working additional shifts to make up the sickness levels were a norm!”

Calls for cash to be used for NHS

Martin Bailey was harsher. He said: “Colin James I’m sure £30m from a project no-one wants, needs or believes will make the fanciful returns the minister is proposing would be an excellent start.”

Anthony Hughes found it strange that the government could find money when it suited them. He said: “Better if the care system and NHS received the money directly. Perhaps a good idea in theory but It’s yet another motoring restriction which the majority of drivers ignore. Speed restrictions are useless unless policed.”

Lee Waters insisted: “It will save the NHS money.”

Kath Jones was succinct. She said: “So there you have it, the Welsh Government are wasting £32.3 million, money of which could be going to our Nurses/Drs and NHS!! She said that she did not read journalist interpretation of Scientific papers because she was all too aware of the results.”

Mark Duggan pointed to pollution levels. He said: “My van won’t get out of second gear at that speed, how much diesel fumes will that cause?”

Not all rosy in the garden for Mr Waters on Social media

Lee Waters directed Mr Duggan to German research. He said: “Research in Germany has shown that the greater the speed of vehicles in built-up areas, the higher is the incidence of acceleration, deceleration, and braking, all of which increase air pollution.” He was adamant; “This is a preventative measure for the NHS, it will reduce admissions for road traffic accidents and cuts deaths . This saves money.”

Donna Cosstick wanted empirical proof. She said: “You cannot ( or should not) make statements like this without empirical proof which, so far, has not been forthcoming. Just because you say something does not make it true.”

Martin Bailey pointed to another report, which stated as long as the road is clear that fuel economy is increased with speeds higher than 20mph.

Alex Stone highlighted local problems at Dafen. He said: “I tell you what will save lives doing something about the subway/crossing at Dafen Roundabout. Children on the first day back to school this morning are having to negotiate crossing the roundabout in awful weather conditions.”

Mr Waters said it was ‘the council’s responsibility’.

Lee Fox also raised the issue of cash for the NHS. He said: “30 million to put in place yet we have a backlog on operations and our NHS in Wales is failing people. 40k plus sign the petition and the room still is not read. I understand the built up areas and schools but you cannot fine and tax people for the change in climate and push them further into poverty. The working people again suffering at the cost of a model completed in another area is pure madness. Change can only occur if you consult with your locals and represent your constituents with answerable questions. Only in the week you also put a reduction of 50 mph on Motorways can we please focus on what we need for the people not the career. Many thanks.”

Electric and hybrids questioned

Lee Waters was having none of it. He said: “My career? What are you on about – in case you hadn’t noticed this is not popular with everyone. This is a preventative measure for the NHS, it will reduce admissions for road traffic accidents and cuts deaths . This saves money – as the article sets out.”

Mr Fox asked what was the ratio of fuelled cars to hybrid and electric involved in accidents? Mr Fox pointed out that you cannot hear electric cars approaching.

Martin Bailey asked: “Is true what Lee Fox has said. 45,000 signatures and it’s (petition against 20mph plans) not even live yet. You keep stringing along the public saying there’s an exception process but we both know that exception process does not allow hardly any roads to be included, hence the abortion we have in Buckley. We’ve been trying to raise it with you for 7 months and you keep dusting it under the carpet/ignoring us. This policy is an abject failure and the only reason its blanket 20mph is to save money on implementation. £100m savings is a fantasy figure plucked out of the air. Cannot believe that the people of Wales have been so misjudged/ignored. It’s definitely career defining, the failure of yours. Nobody is doing 20mph where we live, our council has spent a further £66,000 proving what we already knew. Meanwhile, crumbling NHS and highest child poverty rate in the UK. Keir Starmer must be pulling his hair out.”

Donna Cosstick returned to ask for empirical evidence for such claims. She said: “I’ve looked! I would still like evidence. There is a minute amount of fact in the report – mainly that dealing with the actions of the Welsh Government. Apart from that there is is a great deal of speculation.”

Lee Waters responded saying: “ I appreciate you have views on the policy but neither you nor I are experts on research methodology, I defer to the internationally respected Transport Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University and Public Health Wales.”

Donna Cosstick wanted to know why the MS was making assumptions about her qualifications.

More of us in lycra

It was left to a resident of Llanbedr a village besieged with traffic chaos as a result of the halting of new road building. Jane Taylor-Williams said: An environment is where you feel safe and comfortable in your surroundings. Unfortunately many do not in Llanbedr. They find it “unsafe”, due to the volume of traffic. Our children cannot cycle to school due to the volume of traffic. The elderly do not want to walk to the village shop due to no pavements. The pollution levels would be higher when vehicles are either in lower gear or at standstill. Does that not validate the ongoing dilemma that we have here in Llanbedr?”

She continued “We in Llanbedr already drive less than 20 miles an hour due to the traffic problems we have here. Vehicles parked on the road, an extremely narrow bridge which cause huge traffic delays and complete standstills for long periods of time during school holidays, refuse collection days and ever increasing traffic to the Airfield due to popular events. So a 20 mile restriction here in our village would be rather thoughtless, especially as the emergency services already find the situation exasperating., And for those who live in the village or surrounding area who sometimes have to wait to be able to leave their driveways or junctions.”

John Griffiths accused the government of lying. He said: “More lies from the Welsh government they brag about Hendy junction 48 improvements at a cost 3 and half millions? The road is worse and more dangerous and the 50mph & 20mph are worse for the environment lower gears more fuel more emissions.”

Wayne Plug Davies wanted an answer to his question; “I would like to know how driving at 20 mph as said in the study helps people with getting fitter and obesity levels it doesn’t promote cycling or walking.”

Lee Waters replied: “The evidence from trial areas shows that slower speeds creates an environment where people feel safer to cycle and walk and that leads to higher levels of ‘active travel’.”

Wayne Plug Davies responded: “In our weather I doubt it very much I don’t see anyone cycling on my way to work all through the winter.”

Having to field questions. Lee Waters MS

Donna Cosstick still waiting for her empirical evidence said: “Evidence from trial areas”! Tosh!! How much evidence have you taken from the Flintshire trial area – you know the place where you were due to visit and cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. Please explain how you have garnered evidence here.”

Jane Taylor-Williams joined in with “But Jane – the WG and Lee know best. We cannot build more roads as that will encourage nasty vehicles. Basically the WG schemes are much more important than the health and welfare of an insignificant village. Heaven knows what you can do to fight against these ridiculous empire building politicians.”

Lee Waters suggested it was the council’s lack of engagement in finding alternatives, which was the problem.

Ramble on Facebook will continue

Comment: Having four children and having worried whenever they went out on the roads a 20MPH limit on residential roads seems common sense. There does seem to be an awful ot of money being thrown around after the Pandemic but for many the state of the roads in their area is costing them dearly. Not being able to see a dentist or a doctor, having to go without food and unable to afford to heat the home are real NOW issues. It is no use crying Westminster all the time no matter how hard Mr Drakeford objects to accusations that the Welsh Government are failing. Witnessing the chaos on Sandy Road and hearing the woes of the residents of Llanbedr begs the question why councils and Welsh government can’t come together to find a solution for people’s suffering. The same message is uttered regarding the chaos on Sandy Road in Llanelli. It is the responsibility of the council. Some on Sandy Road who are well known to our readers would disagree and insist that it is well within the remit of Welsh Government to intervene and bring a halt to the misery, the health problems and the dangers people face every day in areas like Llanbedr and Llanelli. Walkers, cyclists car users and environmentalists are at odds with the Welsh Government’s plans. We all love the outdoors, we all want a greener cleaner future environment but the battle with the need for the car until such time as a reliable and cost effective alternative arrives will surely continue. They may be miles apart but the Facebook Page of Mr Waters appears to bring them together as one voice, which receives a response at least.

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