Posted: Sun 6th Aug 2023

It’s not just Wales! – Opposition to new 20mph speed limits growing louder on other side of River Dee

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Aug 6th, 2023

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On Sunday, September 17, Wales will become the first UK nation to introduce a new default 20mph speed limit on restricted roads.

The move will change the majority of Wales’ 30mph speed limits to 20mph, making the nation one of the first in the world to establish this default limit.

The Welsh government expects the legislation will cost around £33 million to put into effect, but anticipates that this will be balanced by £58m in savings over the next 30 years due to fewer emergency services and hospital admissions.

However, opposition to the new speed limit has been strong. Tens of thousands of residents in Wales have signed multiple petitions against the speed limit reduction.

But it’s not just Wales; across the River Dee, in Wirral, opposition to new 20mph zones is also growing, with nearly 900 signatures on a petition calling for the council there to reconsider its plans.

Studies have shown mixed results concerning 20mph zones. Some indicate that they reduce accidents and injuries, and encourage more walking and cycling.

Others argue that a general reduction in speed limits doesn’t necessarily lead to fewer accidents unless combined with other safety measures.

Speaking to while on a visit to Wrexham last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave his view on the speed limit reduction in Wales.

He said: “It’s always going to be fitting in particular areas to have lower speeds, for instance, near schoolchildren.”

“I think everyone would agree that from a safety perspective, this makes sense.”

However, the Prime Minister stated, “I think a blanket reduction to 20 miles an hour doesn’t make sense.”

“It [will] just add cost and complexity; it will cause people to make that adjustment and just get in the way of their ordinary lives.”

He said the speed limit reduction “in a blanket fashion like that is not appropriate.”

Wirral Council’s plan to reduce speeds on nearly 1,000 roads is part of a broader strategy to get the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on roads down to zero by 2040 across the Liverpool City Region.

The first phase passed smoothly in January with support from all political parties. But anger has been growing, with some comparing the policy to that of former Soviet communist countries.

Alan Jones, the man behind the petition in Wirral, said, “We request thorough research and analysis on local accident data, road conditions, and traffic flow patterns.” There are concerns that the rollout is an inefficient use of resources, may result in more congestion, disrupt emergency services, and lead to longer journey times.

A report by the Department for Transport in 2018 said 20mph zones were most suitable for quieter streets where compliance was likely, and that police enforcement was key.

Most journey times only increase by 1 minute when zones are rolled out, according to the Welsh Government. Wirral Council also said there would be little impact on buses and no anticipated impact on taxi fares.

Wirral Council environment committee chair Cllr Liz Grey supported the policy, stating that any delays for drivers are likely to be around one minute per person per day.

She argued, “With car crashes being the main killer of children and young people, a minute’s delay is a small price to pay for saving lives.” She also emphasised that the consultation had been advertised, and that objections were noted and responded to, informing further planning.

[By & Ed Barnes, Local Democracy Reporter]

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