Minister hits back at Deputy over road safety request

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Writing in response to a proposition from Deputy Mike Higgins to lower the speed limit along St Aubin’s Inner Road to 20 mph and to install four pedestrian crossings, Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel said: ‘In the last year the department has received over 120 requests for road safety improvements, of which a third have been requests for improvements to pedestrian crossing facilities.

‘Within the budget allocations for 2018, the Department for Infrastructure will be able to make crossing improvements in eight locations, the others are waiting to be prioritised in future years as funding becomes available.’

If approved, Deputy Higgins’ road improvements would cost an estimated £80,000 to £200,000.

The minister also criticised Deputy Higgins, claiming he was ‘deliberately trying to circumvent’ government processes and fast-track his favoured intentions.

Deputy Higgins – who is seeking re-election – said that he had lived near the road for 38 years and had experienced the high volume of traffic, its increased use by commercial vehicles and the difficulty of crossing it.

In response to Deputy Noel’s comments, Deputy Higgins said that he would have ‘rebutted’ the minister’s allegations in the States had he had the opportunity to and that he had relodged the proposition for debate by the next Assembly.

The proposition had been due to be debated before the States dissolved for the election. However, a busy order paper filled with a number of big debates meant that Members ran out of time and it was shelved. It will be one of the first debates of the new Assembly if Deputy Higgins is re-elected. If he does not get back in then it will fall away.

In the official comments lodged with the States, the minister accused Deputy Higgins of giving several ‘factually incorrect statements and statistics’ and threatening other high-priority road safety improvements.

He said: ‘Deputy Higgins has a history of attempting to meddle with speed limits in St Helier without taking into account the advice of qualified professionals.

‘He previously lodged a proposition in January 2011 requesting that this same stretch of road be given a 25 mph limit.

‘This whimsical approach to speed limits indicates a lack of research when attempting to change Island road safety policy, without considering the views of the wider community.’

The minister also questioned why Deputy Higgins had waited until the end of his term of office to introduce the changes.

Deputy Noel added: ‘It is unfortunate that the Deputy was unable to attend the road safety seminar held by the minister on 6 February, where officers explained the assessment process followed by the department to deal with the many road safety requests received.’

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