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“Waste of Airtime” – What Petitioners Wife Thinks About Today’s 20MPH Review Announcement

Personal Opinion Piece by Lisa Baker

After six months of relentless campaigning to get the ridiculous blanket 20MPH overturned, my husband and I were delighted to hear that the new Transport Minister was considering a rethink today.

So all week, we have heard promises of a roll back, of intentions to just put it where we were originally told this was heading, outside schools and hospitals to protect the vulnerable.  And we were, albeit with some misgivings, beginning to think that the nonsense was going to abate and the grown ups were back in charge.

With baited breath, we waited for today’s announcement, in anticipation of the changes that would be announced.

And then.  Then the speech came.  With practically no content, other than to say, in another six months, a whole 12 months after the policy was introduced, after goodness knows how many motorists will have been penalised and fined, ‘some’ roads will be put back to 30mph and ‘some’ powers will be handed back to local councils.

I should have guessed, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Welsh Governments Transport Plan, cycling charity Sustrans earlier this week issued calls for the Welsh Government to “hold their nerve”.  No offence, but why does a cycling charity get to have such a big say in the lives of nearly half a million Welsh Motorists?   Why was so much of the Transport Policy for the whole of Wales created to be so cycle-centric?  Well, take a look at the Welsh Transport Delivery Plan, most notably page 45, and go figure.

As a mere constituent, am I allowed to ask why this charity, the former employer of former Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters, received so much Welsh funding?  Funding that could have been invested in our transport system – which has seen bus service subsidies massively cut, while massive budgets have been found to build cycle paths that are not even wanted by cyclists outside our cities.

In many rural regions, the paths sit unused and empty while big groups of cyclists continue, as is their legal right, to congregate and ride in the middle of the nearby road.  On asking why they don’t use them, they tell me their tyres would get damaged.  Ironic for paths supposedly crafted by cycling experts, no?

Now, I’m not anti anything, I am all for cyclist rights, walkers rights, children’s rights, but surely Welsh drivers, treated like a massive cash cow, have their right too, at least the right to have a say in how their money is spent?

Someone who should definitely have had a say on this today is Shadow Transport Minister Natasha Asghar, however she was effectively silenced in the chamber today, it appears on watching the debarcle she was denied a proper right to respond.

So excuse me if my hope for change on 20mph has somewhat faded today.  Frankly, after months of campaigning, and this week of build-up and hot air, the balloon was very firmly let down today – though with a pathetic whimper and a fizz rather than a big confident bang.   It’s business as usual for the Senedd, just a little bit quieter.

As for me – I think it’s been a wasted week and to say I am disappointed is an understatement.  I had hoped for better.

 

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