While there will inevitably be a level of opposition to any such far-reaching proposal as our planned roll-out of 20mph limits for Edinburgh, I must put a number of misconceptions to bed so that your readers can be confident they have the full facts.
You state in your piece (‘City’s on roads to nowhere’, News, January 12) that “almost half” of the respondents to our consultation last autumn were in favour of the roll-out, when in fact the survey found 60 per cent supported or strongly supported the plans.
Claims that this is a “blanket” roll-out are simply untrue. The council worked painstakingly with key stakeholders, including bus companies and Police Scotland, to develop a robust set of criteria for selecting which streets should change to 20mph and which should remain at 30mph or 40mph.
What we have come up with, again based on the extensive feedback we have had since these plans were first mooted nearly three years ago, is a network of 20mph limits mainly on residential and shopping streets, with a 30 and 40mph network maintained for key arterial routes.
The legal speed limits on any roads in the Capital are enforced by Police Scotland and this will be no different whether the street is 20, 30 or 40mph. Police will direct their resources to particular problem areas, as they do currently, and drivers caught flouting the limit will face warnings or speeding fines. Additional measures such as Vehicle Activated Signs could also be installed in streets where particularly high numbers of contraventions are detected or reported.
In terms of safety, other cities that have introduced 20mph speed limits have seen reductions in casualties. For example in Portsmouth it is estimated that 20mph limits have lowered road casualties by eight per cent, while in Warrington there has been a reduction in collisions of 25 per cent in 20mph speed limit areas.
Evidence from the South Edinburgh pilot area also points to a reduction in casualties (20 per cent to January 2014).
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener, Edinburgh City Council
20mph rule will aid quality of life
You report that there is ‘widespread opposition’ to the council’s plans to introduce 20mph in most Edinburgh Streets when the opposite is true.
When the council was considering this initiative two years ago, they found that public support for 20mph limits in busy shopping streets was 69 per cent, with only four per cent opposed). We must not see Edinburgh’s streets simply as a means to travel from A to B as quickly as possible, but as a place for people to live and work.
I hope that the council will not be deterred by a vocal but unrepresentative motorist lobby from this far-sighted move to put quality of life and safety in the city above traffic speed.
David Hunter, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh
Labour Party puts bombs before bairns
It appears that the Labour Party is in an absolute shambles. On the same day as chastising the Scottish Government for what it sees as a waste of £95 million in introducing free school meals for all primary 1-3s in Scotland, Labour renews its support for the replacement of Trident, at a cost of £100 billion.
Free school meals will benefit 113,000 children, boosting health and attainment at school, vital support at a time when in-work poverty is rocketing.
It is indeed a bizarre situation when the Labour Party is happy to put bombs before bairns.
Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh
We need to talk about autism treatment
The BBC’s series on people with hidden disabilities should be applauded. The January 6 edition featured Chris Goodchild who has Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. Chris was diagnosed in his 40s. Given there are about 850 treatments for autism, with 11 having some evidential support, there are two which have substantial, long-term clinical trial results demonstrating their effectiveness and Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is one.
As the only specialist centre using PRT in the country, the therapeutic approach can be helpful at any age, but the most impressive statistics relate to young children – 95 per cent who begin treatment before they are three and a half years old become verbal.
However, not all parents are fortunate to experience early intervention techniques, as by the time their child is diagnosed with autism it is often too late.
We need to improve how we treat the increasing number of people who have autism and related conditions, giving children the help they so desperately need, as early as possible. We have ways to help young people with autism – let’s have the will to use them.
Ruth Glynne-Owen, founder of Speur-Ghlan, Bridge of Allan
City hygiene failure is putting off visitors
Last week, alongside an international group of visitors, I had a great time in Edinburgh. However, I was shocked at the filth and mess which filled The Scotsman Steps – beer cans and bottles, food, paper and questionable streams of liquid. Who’s in charge of maintaining this public space?
I took my friends there, ready to show off a modern art work. We all left feeling let down. The same mess surrounded the Writers’ Museum.
I don’t think saying “it’s simply Hogmanay” is good enough. Our visits took place later. Are these spaces now clean and tidy?
I will return next summer but in the meantime, doesn’t everyone, whether Edinburgh citizens or visitors, deserves better public standards?
Margaret Maden, Dale Close, Oxford