Opponents to Edinburgh Council's '20mph success' labelled 'Dastardly and Muttley'
OPPOSITION councillors have been compared to cartoon villains Dastardly and Muttley amid being blasted for criticising the success of a 20mph speed limit being rolled out across the Capital.
Edinburgh Council’s transport and environment committee considered a research report into 20mph zones being rolled out and the impact of the change.
The independent study, carried out by the National Institute for Health Research, found that average speeds across the city have dropped by 1.3mph – a success that was ridiculed by opposition councillors. The research also found “no evidence of displacement of traffic from 20mph streets to 30mph streets after implementation of the 20mph limit” and that casualties have “fallen substantially” since the roll-out but “it is not yet possible to ascribe reductions to the 20mph limit as opposed to an overall falling trend”.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Kevin Lang, hit out at the SNP-Labour administration for backtracking on the aim of reducing motorists’ speeds.
He said: “I don’t sit here satisfied with the outcomes – I hoped and expected more from this.
“I’ve gone back to the genesis of the project and the very first measure of success that is listed is a reduction in speed. Frankly, the speed of some of the backtracking that we have heard today, we may as well get a pop-up Bob in the corner.”
But council leader Cllr Adam McVey moved to reiterate that changes in behaviours were key to the success of the project and blasted opponents for “not getting” the purpose.
He added: “Getting everyone to drive at 20mph was not the aim. The reduction in speed was the mechanism to get the outcome that we need. That is the concept that’s still being missed by my Liberal Democrat colleague and indeed the Conservatives.
“The outcomes are the behaviour change, the improvement in safety. The reduction in speed is of course the thing we are driving to, but it is not the outcome.”
Tory Cllr Scott Douglas sarcastically panned the council leader’s comments over the reduction in speed.
He said: “I want to welcome Cllr McVey’s admission that he point of this exercise wasn’t to make drivers drive at 20mph.”
But Labour Cllr Gordon Munro compared Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as cartoon villains for their dissent towards the project.
He said: “When I was a kid I used to like watching Wacky Races and Dastardly and Muttley always tried to cheat – they never won.
“This is like Dastardly and Muttley – because they’re not actually looking to do anything with this that will substantially change or alter or make anything happen.
“This has been a disingenuous and dissembling debate against something that has been successful for our city in so many aspects and so many different ways. The behavioural change is already happening with the people that are the future drivers in this city.”
Green Cllr Claire Miller called out opponents for refusing to formally oppose the 20mph project – despite criticising it.
Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, insisted the 20mph project has the backing of the public – with 65 per cent of residents supporting the scheme.
She added: “We have seen the benefits described, we have seen it around accident rates, we have seen it in the reduction in speed.
“I think this has been a very positive move for the city. I think it’s very important that we press on with this – that we look further to see what we can do with this. It underpins so much of our transport policy and the movement forward as a city.”