Bristol Mayor Goes Ahead With 20 MPH Speed Limits Against Council Opposition
Nationally 20 limits continue to spread - but backlash starts
Bristol's independent mayor George Ferguson has vowed to press on with his plans for city-wide signed-only 20 mph speed limits despite councillors voting for it to be halted. 1
The Alliance of British Drivers contacted several leading politicians in the area inviting comment. Mark Weston, Leader of Bristol City Council's Conservative group told us: "The mayor is autocratic with executive power enjoyed by no other mayor in the country. He can and does overrule councillors - unique in Britain." He went on to criticise the policies of road capacity reduction and general slowdown of traffic by things like bus stop build-outs and removal of filter lanes, creating congestion. The new extensions of 20 mph zones would cost £2.3 million.
In a recent radio interview including the ABD's Bristol representative Bob Bull, Bristol South Labour MP Dame Dawn Primarolo said that she only supported 20 mph zones around schools, hospitals and highly residential narrow roads — not main roads.
Earlier this year Bristol won a competition held by the Alliance of British Drivers — nominated worst in country for drivers. That came from our You Tube video shot in Bristol. 2
On 16th December Bristol councillors considered a motion calling on the Secretary of State to amend the powers surrounding their mayor which would have the effect of making him more easily removable — and consequently more accountable.
ABD director Ian Taylor commented:
‘The way Bristol's mayor is constituted is at odds with 21st century local democracy — he has (and uses) the sort of power associated with a medieval baron. The only difference is that he does have to stand for election every four years. The next one is May 2016, and I can only imagine Bristol's discriminated-against drivers are counting down the days. As well as Bristol, other councils continue to roll out swathes of new blanket 20 mph zones, Brighton, Birmingham and Edinburgh being just three prominent examples. This despite mounting evidence that they do not bring the road safety benefits their proposers predicted. The ABD has previously discredited figures used by Bristol council to advocate them, including false claims about increased walking and cycling. 3
Even the Department for Transport now have doubts about widespread 20 mph speed limits and are conducting an enquiry into their effects. The ABD therefore is calling for a moratorium on all large scale new limits until that enquiry is complete and the results fully studied and debated. Advocates for slowing us down further are not prepared to wait, which makes me ask if their motives are really political and ideological. That should not be a reason for the setting of any speed limit. There has been a backlash though, starting in Worthing, Sussex, where the council dropped plans following a consultation in which nearly 70% of respondents voted against, 4 even more in a newspaper poll.’ 5
That campaign was spearheaded by "Twenty's Pointless", which could go on to become more than just a local campaign. 5
With an election approaching, the ABD has, in conjunction with The National Motorists Action Group, produced a Motorists' Charter, a wide-ranging document for use by anyone to lobby prospective national and local candidates of any political persuasion. Ian Taylor said: “I urge drivers everywhere to read it, download it, print it and disseminate it, so that this time we are not fobbed off with false promises to 'end the war on the motorist'.” 6