20mph speed limits

Mike Lawton's letter in Monday's Star, regarding 20mph vs 30mph speed limits, seems to cloud the real issue by suggesting air pollution should be the main consideration.

Over the years there have been a number of well-documented research projects into this subject, particularly in the UK, Germany and the US. It is fair to say that a consensus is difficult to reach, partly because this is not a subject where one solution suits all conditions. However, there is wide agreement in certain areas.

First, a car being driven at 30mph is certainly more fuel-efficient than a car being driven at 20mph. However, in an urban area where it is impossible to maintain a constant speed approaching 30mph many drivers will accelerate harder and more often to return to a faster speed, after having to slow down because of traffic issues, than would a driver who is restricted to a maximum of 20mph.

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This driving behaviour is a notorious contributor to pollution. I would certainly accept that 30mph is more fuel-efficient but Mike Lawton’s challenge to Douglas Johnson becomes ludicrous because of the impossibility of measuring air pollutants during his ‘trial’, to say nothing of doing two runs at different speeds in exactly the same conditions.

The second consensus is on the impact of a lower speed limit on health. What is more important, fuel economy or lives? I ask this because Mike Lawton’s ridiculous comment about being hit by a car at 5mph belittles his attempt to make a constructive argument.

Recent research in the UK indicates a significant drop in mortality and injury rates would be achieved at a speed limit of 20mph, with a saving to the NHS in Wales alone approaching £100million annually.

Separately, the Department of Transport state that road accidents involving children, where 20mph zones are in place, have been reduced by two thirds.

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Research over the last few years both in the UK and internationally, indicates that there are two separate elements to air pollution. While some pollutants would be increased at the lower speed others would be reduced.

The combined effect on mortality rates from these pollutant changes appears to be beneficial at lower speeds.

It seems to be an obvious decision, 20mph urban limits are far better, but will only work if enforced, as Manchester has discovered where motorists continue to ignore the 20mph limits.

Keith Elliott

High Green

Rip-off Britain

John Unwin’s letter about nurses’ parking charges, (Your View, August 28), reminded me of an incident a couple of years ago when I took my late mother to the NG Hospital.

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Her appointment was to have an ambulatory blood pressure monitor fitted. This is a device which is worn for 24 hours and consists of a blood pressure cuff and a small electronic control unit. It is designed to take and record bp readings automatically at regular intervals. At the end of the period the device has to be returned to the hospital for the readings to be analysed.

So they asked me “Can you bring the device back tomorrow?”

“Yes of course I can, fine”, I replied. “Where is the free drop-off point?”

“Er, there is no drop-off point, you’ll have to use the main car park.

“What, and pay four quid? You’re joking.”

So I asked where the district nurses and phlebotomists drop off their blood samples. Apparently they have to use the main car park too, and pay for the privilege. Yes really. Helpfully, they suggested I could try parking outside the door and be very quick about it.

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OK, I said, but what if I get a ticket, will it be cancelled? Er, no. So we can forget that then, can’t we.

Sensing stalemate, I suggested they fetch someone more senior. So we worked our way upwards through various staff nurses, a senior nurse, and a couple of management types but got nowhere. Apparently nobody in the hospital hierarchy had the power to issue a one-time parking permit. But they did suggest I could try writing to the chief executive Sir Andrew Cash OBE. Strange but true.

Meanwhile, mum had been trying out the device on her arm and decided it was too painful to wear. I tried it on myself and it was. So she decided not to go ahead with it, thus inadvertently relieving the impasse.

The concept of charging employees to park at their place of employment brings to mind the 19th century practice of paying workers in tokens that are exchangeable only at the company’s overpriced shop, wage skimming effectively.

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But I guess it’s just another manifestation of rip-off Britain. If people are prepared to put up with it, it will continue.

Gary Crosby

by email

Completely undemocratic

Your article on the new arrangements for Sheffield Council meetings completely fell for the council’s spin. With these changes there is virtually no point in becoming an opposition councillor.

Out of the four motions allowed each month the first two will always be from Labour. As most, (currently longer), council meetings only manage to debate two motions this means opposition councillors will probably never get to put a motion.

Reducing the meeting time from five to three hours means there will be even less opportunity to scrutinise the council.

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The public’s questions will now be vetted and selected so controversial issues will no doubt no longer be debated. This is a coup by the Labour Party to enforce one party rule on the city. Labour councillors should be totally ashamed of themselves for acting in this completely undemocratic way.

Graham Wroe

Glencoe Road, Sheffield, S2

Brexit talks progress

It would seem from reports that not much progress is being made in Brexit talks.

However, the Government could make it clear that Brexit is happening by taking down, where possible, EU flags etc. I know that some will argue that we have to wait until we actually leave.

However there are precedents, for example not everybody waits until Twelfth Night to take Christmas decorations down.

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Symbols are important, again the Government could show they mean business by designing and showing us what the new British passport will look like post 2019.

G Cook

Bannerdale Road, Sheffield, S11

Timetable changes

Readers will find a complete set of new bus timetables for Sheffield, (with maps), on the GoTimetable system. Details at www.gotimetable.com

This is the only place where everything is fully listed in route number order. All main stops are listed and can be searched alphabetically.

The service is free.

Peter White

by email