Tory MP told to apologise after bad joke about road safety

A Tory MP was forced into an embarrassing U-turn last night, after an attempt to score petty party political points over road safety.

Philp’s ‘joke’ tweet that he’d rather you did not see

Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, was widely criticised on social media after he tweeted a picture of a car which had crashed into and damaged a 20mph road sign in the borough, part of the Labour council’s policy to make Croydon’s streets safer.

The photograph Philp used had been provided by Andy Stranack, a Tory councillor for Heathfield ward.

“Looks like Croydon Council’s 20mph limit is not working out as planned,” Philp wrote on Twitter.

The sly, off-hand attitude to road safety was roundly condemned, first by members of the public, and later by Labour councillors..

“What a deeply irresponsible tweet, especially from someone in a position of authority,” Stuart King, the Labour council cabinet member in charge of road safety who has steered the 20mph policy in throughout the borough.

“I hope @CPhilpOfficial will reflect on the deaths and injuries that occur on Croydon roads and quickly apologise for being so glib about such an important issue.”

Another Labour councillor, Sean Fitzsimons, observed, “Seems he and his @CroydonTories colleague @AndyStranack delight in dangerous driving.”

Stuart King: called on MP to apologise

On Twitter, others criticised Philp for his attitude: “In my opinion it is typical for people like you to criticise other people’s efforts. Concentrate on what you need to be doing, it’s what we pay you to do. You are a member of an elite club destroying our country. Bricks and Glass houses,” wrote Grant Melton, a professional photographer who travels many miles each week on the roads in and around Croydon in the course of his work.

“Disgusting behaviour by my MP,” wrote another. “He should be ashamed.”

They added: “If when driving you hit a child at 20mph they are likely to survive with minor injuries. At 30mph the child has an 80 per cent chance of survival At 40mph @CroydonTories will mock the child’s death, blame the parents, deride the Council and police and ask the driver to vote Conservative.”

Another wrote of Philp’s tweet: “As unfunny as it is irresponsible.”

Another said, directing her comments at the MP: “I have no idea why you are against improving road safety and reducing deaths on roads. Road safety is not something to joke about.”

And another said, “I think the 20mph limit is a great idea… Safety first, not just any excuse for a pop at the opposition please.”

Philp later deleted his tweet, presumably thinking no one would notice his idiocy. Tough.

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8 Responses to Tory MP told to apologise after bad joke about road safety

  1. Nick Mattey says:

    Looking at the car in the picture, I am sure it does not belong to Councillor King.

    If more people including Croydon Labour councillors purchased smaller vehicles, rather than ostentatious Chelsea tractors to flaunt their wealth, there would be more room for other vehicles. They therefore would be in a better position to pontificate on the need to use public transport, the gulf between rich and poor, pollution from traffic, global warming and jokes in poor taste from Conservative MPs.

  2. You know, the most unfunny thing about this is the chronic over-reaction to a casual flippant comment that could well have been seen on these pages. The second most unfunny thing is the undemocratic way in which an unwanted and unenforceable speed limit is to be foisted on a public who will be paying for something that will achieve nothing.

    • 1, An over-reaction? Really? If Philp did not believe his tweet to be ill-advised, he would not have deleted it. But he did.
      2, Undemocratic? The 20mph zones were a key part of Croydon Labour’s election manifesto in 2014. They won control of the Town Hall at the ballot box, and have implemented their manifesto promise. That is democracy.

  3. On the one hand you can understand the responses he got. On the other I think the point he was making is fair. Having a speed limit that isn’t actually enforced is pointless. One of my friends lives on a road in Thornton Heath where the 20mph limit is generally ignored and where there have been a large number of crashes (including at least one car that ended up upside down). It has been so bad that the local residents were pushing the council to install speed humps. Of course that isn’t going to happen because a certain number of people have to be killed or seriously injured before they will do that. However, it does show clear evidence that just putting up signs with “20” achieves very little. The law abiding drivers will adhere to it, but the ones that were a problem when the limit was 30 will still be a problem.

    • davidmogo says:

      Agreed Mr Squires.

      Although on some roads such as Davidson Road (and plenty others) if you even try and do 20 mph (which no ones does) then you will get beeped or overtaken – which is much more dangerous than a sensible (for the road) 28 mph

      And by the way I am yet to see a police car doing anything less than 28 mph on a 20 mph road

      I am all for sensible driving.. i have small kids so am only too aware of drivers going too fast down narrow residential roads (idiots) where 20 mph is appropriate – but still unenforcable without speed humps. But a blanket 20 mph is pointless.

      (I am quite keen on using brackets)

      • There is no such thing as a “blanket” speed limit. It’s a Peter Morgan myth.

        The 20mph limit is applied only in residential streets that come under council control – and not on TfL administered main routes.

  4. Lewis White says:

    The photo tweeted by Chris Philp actually gives convincing evidence that the 20mph limit does work… the sign stopped the (presumably) speeding car in its tracks! Let’s hope that the driver was not injured nor had knocked down a pedestrian before the sign did its job.

    Maybe they lost control on a patch of ice, or were dazzled by the bright winter sun? Boy (or girl) racer? Drink-driver?

    Out on the streets, the 20mph limit is clearly right in residential side streets, where children, dogs, cats or wild animals and birds can dart out between the parked cars into the path of a moving car or van.

    But I do share the point made by David Mogo about the pressure from other drivers who will tailgate the 20 mph law abiding driver, on roads like Davidson Road. It is not nice when aggressive people of this kind hoot you, or flash their headlights at you for driving “too slow”. It is stressful.

    At times like that, I briefly wish that I had a James Bond splat gun that would spray untreated sewage or concentrated essence of dead fish from the back of my car, on to their windscreen, but then they would crash, and might wipe out an innocent bystander.

    It’s a good thing that these nasty people are hugely outnumbered by polite drivers in the opposite lane, who flash their lights to say “Come onward– I’m letting you in” when one is driving along residential roads which are parked up both sides , leaving just a few “passing space gaps”.

    Yes, this happens hundreds of times every day here in Coulsdon, on St Andrew’s Road.
    They’re very polite, down here in the leafy, Philpy South.

  5. ronnie101 says:

    I support the 20mph on residential roads, especially the narrower ones in the North of the borough.

    However, in the open rural roads often found in Chris Philp’s South areas (and a few in Croydon Central) a limit of 20mph on wide open roads (that were probably 40mph in the 1960’s let alone the recent 30mph) is a recipe for disaster.

    My wife drove down Oaks Road in Shirley 3 times today at a precise 20mph (on the brakes or gas-guzzling low gear all the way) and was overtaken once on the first time, three times on the second time and four times on the third time, all accompanied by flashing lights, horn beeping, etc, and the last of them nearly caused a 3-car pileup that was only escaped by the oncoming car driving off the road.

    However, I am sure that the Council’s authoritarian reaction will be to fill the area with enforcement rather than accept that certain wide-open roads are properly suited to 30mph and make a simple few exclusions.

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