UK Politics

Godfrey Bloom: I may run to be MP as motorists' champion

Godfrey Bloom
Image caption Godfrey Bloom was taught to drive by his father in the 1960s

Former UK Independence Party MEP Godfrey Bloom has revealed he is considering running for Parliament as a "motorists' champion".

He told the BBC that 30 million UK road users had been "shamefully treated" by successive governments.

Mr Bloom called for "sensible" speed limits, adapted to road conditions, and an end to "profit-making" cameras and speed-awareness courses.

School-age children should be instructed in road safety, he added.

But Green Party leader Natalie Bennett accused Mr Bloom of "ignorance", dismissing his ideas as "fantasies".

Mr Bloom, an MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, left UKIP's group in the European Parliament in September after being censured for joking that a group of female party members who did not clean behind their fridges were "sluts".

Still sitting as an independent, he has been appointed an executive patron of the Drivers' Union pressure group.

'Get the bad guys'

Mr Bloom said: "Thirty million drivers have been treated shamefully for 30 years."

He criticised recent speed reductions in some city centres, saying: "The extension of 20mph zones is actually causing more accidents.

"Pedestrians aren't paying the same level of attention and, for drivers, it's difficult to maintain a speed under 20mph. You have people looking at the dashboard, making sure the needle's at 19mph, rather than the road."

Mr Bloom also called for a more "sensible" use of speed limits on motorways, arguing it would be "quite safe" to drive at 80mph on clear stretches in good weather, but that to do so in heavy traffic "in foggy conditions would be a death wish".

Speed-awareness course, where drivers pay extra money to take remedial lessons rather than accept extra points on their licences, were intended to make money, he added.

And hand-held speed cameras were a misuse of police time, Mr Bloom, who used to drive competitively for the Army, added.

He said: "Let's get the bad guys. I would like to see the police getting the people who are really driving badly, not people doing 33mph in a 30 zone.

"Is it better to do catch criminals or have a speed camera getting your grandma going to the shops?"

Mr Bloom said he had not decided whether to run for Parliament at the 2015 general election, as he was "just getting my feet under table" at the Drivers' Union, but added: "I certainly wouldn't rule it out."

Taught by his father to drive in the 1960s, Mr Bloom said he had accumulated a "40-year no-claims bonus". The former investment manager has been an MEP since 2004.

Ms Bennett called Mr Bloom's comments about motorway speed limits "irresponsible".

She also said: "The addition of Mr Bloom to the field of prospective parliamentary candidates does not mark a step upward in the quality of our national debate.

"His remarks on 20mph zones demonstrate either ignorance of the evidence in the ways they prevent death and serious injury and make our streets more people-friendly, or a deliberate rejection of the evidence."

Ms Bennett added: "We need to build our policies, our political debate, around evidence, not fantasies of retired racing drivers."

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