Letters: Low speed limits are now used as a ploy to make Britons give up cars

·10 min read
Road signs such as this could become a more familiar sight - Marjan Cermelj/Getty
Road signs such as this could become a more familiar sight - Marjan Cermelj/Getty

SIR – With the announcement of the possibility of A-road speed limits of 60mph being reduced to 20mph in Surrey (report, August 8), and other counties likely to follow, it is only right that the British public is made aware of the intentions of both the Government and local authorities in reducing, and eventually phasing out, our access to personal transport by pricing people out of cars and by making driving such a huge inconvenience that we simply give up.

Trudy Harrison MP, the transport minister, has already said that owning a car is based on outdated “20th-century thinking” and that the country should move to “shared mobility” to cut emissions. All around the country, evidence of this aim is clear to see.

Unless the British public wakes up and starts to rebel, we will shortly be in the same position as our ancestors, for whom travelling more than five miles from home will be a hugely expensive and unappealing undertaking.

Trevor Holman
Podington, Northamptonshire

SIR – Speed limits need to be based on road conditions and hazards. It is highly debatable that blanket 20mph rural speed limits will improve road safety, and they are certainly no deterrent to racing joyriders.

It seems the authorities have a hidden agenda to stop people driving by making it as difficult as possible and criminalising safe drivers.

Mike Finnis
Hinchley Wood, Surrey

SIR – Surrey County Council’s experiment may well become permanent and, before we know it, roads across England will be similarly restricted.

Drivers are required to adjust their speed according to road conditions. It is for the police to prosecute those who fail to meet that standard. Councils must first undertake proper risk assessments and apply the restrictions only where required and based on scientific evidence and consultation with the drivers affected. They must not be allowed to impose blanket restrictions. Such efforts would appear to be in line with the anti-car campaign by the woke and Lycra brigades.

Nigel Griffiths
Wareham, Dorset

SIR – I live in a 20mph zone. Friends have been fined for driving between 23mph and 26mph. Twice I have seen a policeman with a speed gun in the bushes near where I live, so I try very hard to maintain a speed of 20mph.

A cyclist passed me on Tuesday as I was driving at 20mph. At the lights I told him about the police with speed guns, but he wasn’t concerned because cyclists are exempt. They may ride at 30mph on our roads.

My 6ft 3in husband was recently knocked down by a speeding bike as he crossed the road. The cars had stopped to allow him to cross but not the cyclist careering down the centre of the road. No apology. He was yelled at as he dusted himself down in a now torn suit jacket and the foul-mouthed cyclist just went on his way.

Belinda Stone
Commondale, North Yorkshire

Tory inflation tactics

SIR – Nigel Lawson (Comment, August 4) draws a parallel between Liz Truss’s claims that her proposed tax cuts will not be inflationary with the similar claims made by Tony Barber, the former chancellor, after his 1972 Budget.

The tax cuts made in 1972 clearly lowered the tax burden and thereby loosened the stance of fiscal policy. However, what Ms Truss is proposing will not do this. It will simply reduce the extent of the massive tax rises that Rishi Sunak has brought in, mainly by refusing to index income tax rates.

The Office for Budget Responsibility admits it overestimated the size of the budget deficit after the March 2021 budget by about £131 billion. The main reason is that more people have been drawn into paying tax and paying tax at the higher rates.

Another crucial difference between now and what happened 50 years ago is in the stance of monetary policy, and I find it strange that Lord Lawson does not mention this. The Barber Boom was largely driven by a highly expansionary monetary policy. Now, however, the Bank of England has clearly started to tighten monetary policy and the latest estimates suggest that the growth of broad money is in line with what proved to be consistent with low inflation in the recent past.

It is not wishful thinking to claim that reversing quantitative easing will have bigger effects on inflation than relatively small reductions in taxation.

Patrick Staunton
London, NW3

SIR – Will Rishi Sunak admit that reversing his £20-a-week uplift in Universal Credit was a mistake? If it was necessary under lockdown it is certainly essential now. In doing so he would be following the unanimous recommendation of the House of Lords economic affairs committee and meet his commitment to help the most vulnerable in our country.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con)
London SW1

Cereal-box physics

SIR – G R Booth (Letters, August 8) complains of half-full cereal boxes.

Sixty years ago our physics teacher showed us how the application of differential calculus to find a minimum turning point would reveal that a cube is the most economical shape for a cereal box. He had written to Kellogg’s asking why it didn’t save cardboard by packaging its cornflakes in cubes. It replied that the public wouldn’t buy its products if it did.

Charles Smith
Ruddington, Nottinghamshire

Water and population

SIR – The water companies are always blamed for leaks whenever there is a shortage of water (“Water firms accused of only fixing leaks as crisis looms”, report, August 9). Leaks are endemic to the industry, and the real reason why it was privatised is that the government knew it could never finance a leak-free network.

Statistics show that rainfall, although variable in frequency, has not reduced over the years. Consumption, however, has increased in line with our expanding population. Every rubber dinghy that arrives on the south coast is furthering our population growth, and issues such as water shortages.

Government policy on population growth, if there is one, needs to take into account our water resources and the other services we expect to enjoy.

Mike Ostick
Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire

SIR – Alistair Chisholm, of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (report, August 9) says: “And it was just a kind of a cost-benefit analysis as to whether it was worth it to the customer to invest [in repairing leaks].” In the same report, it is claimed that £27 million was paid to water company bosses in the past two years.

Have the Government and the Water Services Regulation Authority both lost the plot?

Michael Ewing
Shermanbury, West Sussex

SIR – Now the reservoirs are at historically low levels, have the water companies mobilised workers and mechanical equipment to remove all the silt that has built up in them over the years, to increase capacity and reduce flood risk?

Edward Gray
Edinburgh

Not working remotely

SIR – Last week, I rang the Pensions Regulator regarding a compliance issue with the auto-enrolment scheme, and was delighted to be connected to a person within minutes.

Imagine my fury when I could only understand about two words of the other person’s answers to my questions. It transpired that he was working from home, presumably using a mobile phone with bad connection. I had to end the call none the wiser as I simply could not understand him.

Back to the paper and envelope option – I wonder if there will be anyone at the address to open the letter. When are these government agencies going to go back to work?

This country is on its knees due mainly to this idiotic shirking-from-home culture.

Carol White
Northwold, Norfolk

BBC own goal

SIR – I have been writing down the football results at 5pm on a Saturday from Sports Report for at least 65 years, and can’t believe they are no longer going to be broadcast (report, August 8) so the BBC can pander to those who believe that football began with the introduction of the Premier League.

I feel that this was the last service the BBC offered me. Now I might well consider stopping paying my licence fee.

Mick Harris
West Raynham, Norfolk

SIR – The BBC’s decision to cut the reading of the classified football results is like someone killing a butterfly because it doesn’t fit the garden colour scheme and to “free up space”.

Ruth Corderoy
Llandwrog, Caernarfonshire

Pledge to cut lead-based shot was fired too soon

A pointer flushes out grouse from heather on the Remony Estate, Kenmore in Perthshire - chris strickland
A pointer flushes out grouse from heather on the Remony Estate, Kenmore in Perthshire - chris strickland

SIR – I have been involved in the supply of shotgun ammunition for more than 30 years and have never seen problems in the supply chain such as the industry now faces.

Though Henry Bodkin is correct in most of his report (“Shortage of non-lead shot could reduce game in shops”, August 7), it is not the case that the shooting industry committed to a voluntary phasing out of lead-based ammunition by 2025. Indeed, it did not have any knowledge of this pledge, which was made by the Country Land and Business Association, the Countryside Alliance and others without consultation.

The industry would have said that the deadline was impossible, even with a perfect supply chain, because of problems with making non-lead cartridges. It needs time for research and development, so 2030 would have been a more realistic date.

N E Levett-Scrivener
Chairman, Shooting Star Ltd
Sibton, Suffolk

Only private patients get high-level dental care

SIR – The dental profession has only itself to blame for the terrible state of NHS dentistry (“NHS dentists at limit as 90 per cent refuse new patients”, report, August 8). An unworkable contract, imposed on dentists by their profession leaders in 2006, was destined to fail as it was written by people who were out of touch with the workings of modern dental practices. It survived only due to the dedicated NHS dentists who worked very hard to provide a service for their patients.

I am a retired dental surgeon who was passionate about the NHS. But if I could go back into general practice now, I wouldn’t touch the NHS with a barge pole. High-level patient care can now only be done privately.

Peter Barter
Eye, Suffolk

SIR – Someone I know, who is nearly 80, was told by her NHS dentist that she needs urgent dental implants. She asked how much it would cost and was told “the NHS doesn’t do them”. The same practice could do it privately, for between £8,000 and £12,000.

“Suppose I can’t afford it?” she asked. “Soup” was the reply.

Liz Wicken
Foxton, Cambridgeshire

SIR – The average cost of educating and training a dentist during their five-year course is £250,000. This is partially offset by student fees and by their treatment of NHS patients as part of their studies. Once qualified, dentists should surely recompense British taxpayers by continuing to devote at least 10 per cent of their clinic time to NHS patients, particularly children. Alternatively, a dentist could pay back £10,000 a year for 10 years to the NHS.

Martin E J Curzon
Emeritus Professor of Child Dental Health
Brompton, North Yorkshire

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