I wonder if any of your readers were aware that, with the exception of areas with existing 30mph speed restrictions, Chris Thomas recently introduced a 40mph speed limit throughout the entire length of the public highways from Union Mills to Ramsey via Ballacraine, causing tailbacks of vehicles.

I took issue with this the Department of Infrastructure over this and in an e-mail to Jeff Robinson, the director of highway services, said: ‘Can I assume that a traffic regulation order has been introduced to give effect to such speed restrictions and on the assumption that I can so assume, please let me have a copy of the relevant order or orders.

‘I’ve noticed also, that reminder speed signage is in place – some in the direction of travel on the driver’s left-hand side of the road, some on the opposite side the road and some on both sides of the road.

‘I recall that I asked this time last year to be provided with the relevant laws covering such “reminder” signage, in particular the distances between such signage, but I never did receive them.

‘Please let me have hyperlinks to them.’

Karl Millar, who described himself as a business liaison officer, replied and said: ‘The speed restrictions are in place and have been since March 1 to allow for planned maintenance around the TT course.

‘Allowing essential work to be carried out in sections of road that would normally be areas of high speed, giving a better degree of safety for our operatives.

‘I have also copied in the order for the extension of the speed restrictions.’

These are extracts from reply to Karl of the May 16.

I find it hard to believe that the department, which in law is the Minister Chris Thomas MHK, found it necessary to restrict speed to 40mph throughout the entire length of the public highways from Union Mills to Ballacraine and from Ballacraine the Ramsey town boundary.

Has Chris Thomas lost his senses?

Is he seriously suggesting that preparatory work for the TT was being carried out simultaneously throughout the entire length of these highways?

I note that the speed restrictions introduced by the department cover the period from 6pm on May 5 until 6pm on May 13, 2023, which suggests that highway operatives must have been working on the highways referred to over the complete night of May 5 and 6 and until 6pm on May 13.

Was this the case and if it wasn’t why was it necessary to inconvenience motorists by unnecessarily restricting speed and during daytime cause tail backs during periods when no work was being carried out?

Do highways operatives work on the highways until 6pm on a Friday?

Since the speed restriction signage referred to covering the Douglas to Peel Road and the Ballacraine to Ramsey Road, was still in place last night at about 9.30pm i.e. outside of the period covered by the order, thus inconveniencing motorists unlawfully.

Do you agree that such speed restrictions, which I dare say were still in place this morning, were unlawful?

A speed read of the guidance – Safety at Street Works and Road Works which you say you follow, but which is actually a Code of Practice, reveals that the legal status of the code applies to highways authorities in England and Wales to roads authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland – but not to the Isle of Man.

Furthermore, the code doesn’t apply to situations covered by the department’s ‘blanket’ speed restrictions covering lengthy stretches of highways unless all of the required signage is in place.

Do you agree?

It seems to me that you’ve abandoned the use of temporary traffic lights which were formerly used to protect highways operatives in areas of the highways where they were actually working, simply for your own convenience.

Is this the case?

Either way how can you say that you are following the code when you clearly aren’t as none of the signage which the code requires to provide such protection was in place, when I recently passed – at 40 mph –highways operatives painting black/white kerbs in an area of the Kirk Michael to Ramsey highway.

I await Karl’s reply.

Trevor Cowin

Poortown Road


This letter was first published in the Isle of Man Examiner of May 23.

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