Come September, if the Welsh Government has its way, residential roads up and down this nation will be subject to a 20mph restriction, all under the guises of climate-change action and safety. For many motorists, that altruistic reasoning seems like a crock — and the Welsh Government will be gladly pocketing a handsome profit on the basis of fines collected from the hard-pressed and lead-footed motorists of Wales.
So far, more than 21,000 motorists have signed a petition in an attempt to at least halve this proposal, if not to roll it back fully. Right now, the chance of that happening seems slim indeed.
Minister for Transport Lee Waters says that reducing the speed limit “will not only save lives but will help build stronger and safer communities”, adding that it is the “biggest step-change in community safety in a generation”.
That may be so, but it feels awfully like an unnecessary imposition on motorists who have little alternative but to use their vehicles for work.
Thanks to cutbacks, under investment and underfunding, the public transport system in Wales is a joke.
Bus services have been curtailed to the point where the elderly and ill have no credible alternative but to drive to their medical appointments. So too anyone who might consider taking a train to commute. The services are poor and rolling stock, at least in the case of the Cambrian Line, is in dire need of replacement.
As green as the government makes this scheme out to be, the reality is that it will inflict a £4.5 billion hit on the Welsh economy — and that means more time spent in vehicles, more time travelling, less time being productive.
The government’s argument is that this will save about 100 lives and some 20,000 casualties. It might be a bit more palatable if only Cardiff Bay had invested in roads and public transport.
What is most galling is that this is being imposed as a blanket measure across Wales. Does Cardiff Bay not think that local councils should have the powers to decided what roads should be affected by this madness?