Document 20220108 0001

Never let it be said that our outgoing chair, Nigel Williams, didn't make his presence felt in the past. This 30 year old cutting reveals how, as Transport spokesperson for North Staffs Friends of the Earth, he believed that traffic congestion and road safety could be improved in the run up to the 21st century. It seems that not much has changed since then but Nigel was speaking with some experience of the infrastructures he was calling for, having lived for several years in Sheffield when the bus service was second to none and a cross-county fare was 10p for an adult (and 2p for a child). The result was low levels of traffic congestion, speedier journeys into town and most families giving up second cars - great for decarbonisation, although that wasn't the issue then. That of course was dependent on having an efficient subsidised bus service (South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive) run by councils that not only had the political will to improve public transport but also the finance to afford it.

Sadly, that is not the case today and certainly not in Staffordshire, where buses are commissioned by the county council and cross-border services between counties are too few to be a realistic option for most potential passengers. In practice, bus services around the county can be a viable option for those with spare time, access to a journey planner app and ideally holding a bus pass. However, they could be so much better and, as in Sheffield in the 1980s, be the first choice for busy people not needing to transport bulky goods.  But that would require commitment from national government to provide support and incentives for counties to commission such services. Would that they followed through on their vague promises! They may have produced a policy now that looks like the one called for by Nigel in 1992 but there is little evidence that they are acting on it. After all, how can an administration dependent on funding from the fossil fuel industry ever take such promises seriously?

They do however claim to promote active travel and a key part of this, apart from the lazy option of just exhorting people to walk and cycle more, would be making roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. One successful approach to this, and an improvement on chicanes and sleeping policemen, has been the introduction of 20's Plenty zones around schools throughout the country by grass roots organisations. But there is a strong argument for extending these to most residential roads, as is already happening in the UK's larger cities and will be implemented shortly throughout Wales.

Some might argue that such speed limits would make traffic flows unrealistically slow but in reality congestion already does that, although not consistently enough to be safe.  For example, data from the London Assembly show that between 2008 and 2018 average traffic speeds in central London decreased from 8.7 mph to 7.1 mph; in inner London from 12.5 mph to 11.6 mph and in outer London from 20.3 mph to 19.3 mph.

Members of MCA's Transport group are now meeting with 20's Plenty North Staffordshire in the hope of getting more change in the Moorlands but we need more input, as our group is desperately small.  If you would like to join us or help out in any way, do please get in touch via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..