Prime Minister: Welsh Government’s blanket 20mph speed limit “not appropriate”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has given his view over the blanket speed limit reduction set to be introduced on Welsh roads in September, branding the move as inappropriate.
Wales is poised to implement a new 20mph speed limit law on 17 September 2023.
The move will transition the majority of Wales’ 30mph speed limits to 20mph, making the nation one of the first globally to establish a default 20mph limit.
During a visit to Wrexham on Friday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Deeside.com, “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.”
In the run-up to the new legislation, eight communities, including Buckley, reduced speed limits.
The decision, however, triggered an outcry in the town, and a petition opposing the speed limits, signed by 51,000 people, was sent to the Welsh Parliament.
There were demands for the main arterial roads through the town to revert to 30mph after the blanket 20mph limit was imposed.
The Welsh Government minister leading the 20mph speed rollout conceded that they erred in Buckley.
Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, admitted that imposing a blanket 20mph speed limit change on all roads in the town and the surrounding area was a mistake.
Speaking to Deeside.com at an event in Saltney in June, Mr Waters said: “Buckley was one of eight pilots. The whole purpose of a pilot is to test things and learn from them.”
“With Buckley, the decision was made not to have any of what we call ‘exceptions.’ So, the 20mph speed limit was applied to the whole area, rather than only some parts.”
“Now, I think that was a mistake. In a sense, it worked because we applied that approach, and that approach didn’t work.”
The Welsh Government has introduced ‘exceptions criteria’, which allow local councils some flexibility to retain 30mph speed limits, where appropriate, on some restricted roads, providing that the criteria are met.
To claim an ‘exception’ for a restricted road, local councils must present a clear and reasoned case for doing so, demonstrating that robust evidence exists that retaining a higher speed limit would be safe.
“Not all existing 30mph roads will meet this test, although it is probable that stretches along some roads will,” said Flintshire council.
After assessing local roads using the Welsh Government’s ‘exception’ criteria, and in close collaboration with County Councillors, a number of roads in Flintshire have been identified as potential exceptions.
A formal consultation process on the proposed changes to the roads listed below was launched on Friday, 28 July 2023. This Statutory Consultation period of 3 weeks will close on Friday, 18 August.
The roads where the exceptions are being proposed are:
• A549 Mold Road, Mynydd Isa
• A549 Chester Road / Dirty Mile – Little Mountain, Buckley
• B5127 Liverpool Road, Buckley
• B5128 Church Road, Buckley
• Drury Lane, Buckley
• St Davids Park, Ewloe
• White Farm Road, Buckley
• A541 Hendre
• A541 Denbigh Road, Mold
• A5104 Warren Bank Interchange, Broughton
• A5026 Holway Road, Holywell
• B5121 Greenfield Road, Holywell
• B5129 Kelsterton Road, Kelsterton
• B5129 Queensferry Roundabout
Flintshire Council has said that although the proposed changes (listed above) can be advertised over the summer, “the required Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s) cannot be legally implemented until after the 17 September 2023 following the introduction of the new legislation. Until the statutory consultation process has been completed, it is not possible to say how many of the roads listed above will change to 30mph.”
After the 20mph speed limit law is enacted in September, local communities will have the opportunity to propose additional roads for exemption through the Council’s website, “more information on this process will be available in the autumn” The Council has said.
An information pack will be available for public inspection at the Council’s Connect Centres between 9am and 4.30pm on the days listed below:
• Buckley – Tuesday or Thursday
• Connah’s Quay and Holywell – Monday to Friday
• Mold – Monday, Wednesday or Friday
The possible exceptions are available for viewing on DataMap Wales https://datamap.gov.wales/maps/roads-affected-by-changes-to-the-speed-limit-on-re/
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