Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Kidwelly’s woes should make us all stop and think

Published in Llanelli Herald on 26th May 2017

Last Friday, I held a public meeting in Kidwelly on the parking and speeding issues faced by the town.

Though the meeting was not particularly well publicised over 50 people came out on Friday night to explain how much of an impact speeding cars and inconsiderate parking is having on their lives.

For example, people mounting their cars on pavements obviously doesn’t seem like a big deal to the driver but to parents with a pushchair or wheelchair users, this simple act of thoughtlessness can force them out into the road and into potentially dangerous confrontations with oncoming traffic.

Cars whose drivers choose to speed through the town is also a concern, particularly for those tackling the school run. With two kids of my own, I know how difficult it can be to juggle the multiple demands of the daily commute without having to contend with self-centred motorists. Split seconds can be the difference between mundanity and tragedy.

Many at the meeting were frustrated by the lack of progress - mine wasn’t the first meeting the town had held and they were quick to point out that little has changed. In part, that’s because of a lack of money, budgets are simply too tight to give every community the traffic-calming measures that are needed - and the complexity of the rules and regulations which affect anything which is done near the highway.

But residents are right to challenge this inaction, and it mustn’t be left for a tragedy to occur before due attention is paid. I will do everything I can to work with councillors and council officials to address their concerns.

But I also think there’s room for us to all take collective responsibility for this community’s woes.

Kidwelly is a stunning town. But its beauty is being blighted by the selfish acts of a few. People who can’t walk fifty metres further down the street, or who can’t arrive at their destination just five minutes later. Sometimes there might be legitimate reasons for this; often there aren’t.

And at moments like these, I find myself reflecting on how we have allowed the car to dominate our lives, to such a degree that 50 people will give up their Friday night plans to come and speak to me. Cars are a convenience, sure, and (since having to juggle the demands of being an Assembly Member) my family has two. But they now monopolise the environments we live in.

And too often we resort to tighter controls; expensive coping mechanisms that offer a physical barrier to what is essentially anti-social behaviour - parking permit schemes, pedestrian crossings, curb extensions and speed bumps. We opt for ever-more-expensive engineered solutions, rather than addressing the problem at source.

Getting out of this situation will take collective action, a collective promise to prioritise people over speed, our communities over convenience. I’m not suggesting that this would solve all of Kidwelly’s parking and speeding woes, and - as I’ve already set out - I am determined to try and tackle the issues that were raised. But with complex problems, the response must also be complex. Tackling these concerns will take more than a lollipop lady or a concrete bollard, it’s about each of us taking responsibility for the communities we live in. It’s less “me first” and more “us, together”.

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