Flintshire Council Leader defends Welsh Government’s controversial 20mph policy
The Leader of Flintshire Council has defended the Welsh Government’s controversial 20mph policy, stating it was part of the Welsh Labour manifesto before the last Senedd election.
Last week, built-up areas in Wales saw speed limits drop from 30mph to 20mph, making Wales the first UK nation to enforce this rule.
An online petition calling for the removal of the “disastrous” 20mph law in Wales has garnered nearly 450,000 signatures, a record for the Welsh Parliament.
During a full council meeting at County Hall in Mold on Tuesday, Cllr Helen Brown posed an urgent question.
The councillor for the Aston ward asked, “Will the Leader of Flintshire County Council and his Cabinet join thousands of Flintshire Residents to call for the 20mph to be rescinded by Mark Drakeford? We live in a democratic society, and this certainly isn’t democratic.”
In response, Cllr Roberts said he didn’t know if any of the council’s Cabinet – made up of eight Labour and one Liberal Democrat councillor – have signed the petition, “some may have for all I know.”
Cllr Roberts, referring to himself, said: “I do happen to know what the leader of Flintshire County Council will do. I refer to the second part of this (urgent question) we live in a democratic society.”
“As part of a democracy, we are all entitled to our own opinion. Yes, (20mph speed limit) is slow, yes it takes some getting used to, but on a personal level, when I voted for the Welsh Labour at the last Senedd elections, I knew what was in the manifesto. And this was quite clearly in the manifesto.”
He affirmed, “I will not be signing, and I certainly haven’t signed the petition.”
Cllr Roberts narrated his experience of encountering 20mph signs even in the Wirral, trying to escape the 20mph limit in Wales.
He warned the council, “If you’re hoping to get away from 20 miles an hour by going over to the Wirral, avoid it, because you’re not going to escape it, it’s there!”
Cllr Roberts reiterated his stance, saying Mark Drakeford is not a dictator, and the change will take some getting used to.
Responding, Cllr Brown claimed there would be increased fuel consumption, higher emissions, and rising fuel prices due to the reduced speed limit. She pointed out the confusion over new speed limit signs leading to erratic driving and chaos on the roads.
She criticised the £33 million expenditure on the initiative amidst other pressing issues like the underfunded NHS and deteriorating road conditions.
Cllr Brown said, “The petition calling for the Senedd to rescind the 20mph is record-breaking with over 430,000 signatures.”
“The last time I checked, Alyn and Deeside was one of the most signed areas.”
She said: “The message is loud and clear, people will no longer be ignored, there was nothing democratic, since when did the Senedd think it’s okay to impose laws without asking us what we think?
“The Senedd cannot dictate what it thinks we should do without asking us!”
“Do you agree with me that in the name of democracy, a full consultation to every household in Wales should have taken place?”
Cllr Brown also referred to the Welsh Government’s “national transport delivery plan for 2022 to 2027,” which includes developing a national road user charging network and other measures to shift away from private car use.
Cllr Roberts said, “On the issue of consultation, there’s no greater consultation with the public than an election. People had the opportunity to vote on the policies in the (Labour) manifesto.”
He said: “If people are going to vote, they need to understand what the policies are that they vote for.”
Cllr Roberts said “I hope my view on this is respected, and I hope I do not receive a multitude of emails and abuse because of what I’ve said here today.”
“I could have simply stated that my stance on the 20 miles an hour limit is my personal decision. But I will not do so.”
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