Posted: Sun 12th May 2024

Transport Secretary Ken Skates tackles 20mph concerns in Buckley

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

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Transport Secretary Ken Skates engaged in a lively discussion with Flintshire councillors in Buckley on Friday, addressing their concerns and the local sentiment regarding 20mph speed limits.

In April, Mr. Skates, who took over the transport brief from Lee Waters, the Deputy Minister who spearheaded the 20mph speed limit rollout in Wales, announced that the Welsh Government would commit to allowing councils to reverse some roads back to 30mph.

Mr. Skates launched a three-phase plan that includes a national listening programme and collaborative efforts with local authorities to identify which roads might be exempt from the 20mph limit.

The new strategy, which focuses on targeted changes, is set to begin with the publication of revised guidelines in July, followed by detailed consultations with councils starting in September.

As part of the Transport Secretary’s listening programme, he met with Buckley ward members on the corner of Liverpool Road and Hawkesbury Road to listen to feedback about the local feeling around 20mph in and around the town.

The majority of 30mph roads in Wales were reduced to 20mph in September last year, making the country one of the first globally to establish a default 20mph limit.

In the lead-up to the new legislation, eight communities were selected for the first phase of the national programme, where 20mph speed limits were introduced between July 2021 and May 2022.

Buckley, Mynydd Isa, New Brighton, Drury, Burntwood, Bryn y Baal, and Alltami were among the areas where the reduced speed restrictions were introduced on 28 February 2022.

However, the ‘trial’ sparked a fierce backlash in Buckley, with residents arguing that it has led to road rage incidents, as well as an increase in pollution and fuel costs.

Many residents were incensed about the lack of consultation over the reduced speed limit.

[Ken Skates MS – left – listening to the concerns of local councillors]

Mr. Skates was joined by Flintshire’s Deputy Leader, Dave Hughes, and local councillors they walked Liverpool Road, one of the main roads that caused huge concerns locally, to understand some of the issues raised.

The Transport Secretary acknowledged the record-breaking petition calling for the 20mph speed limits to be reconsidered, which gathered 469,571 signatures and is set to be debated in the Senedd on May 22.

He said it was “quite striking when you look at the concentration of the signatures from this area, it’s quite something.”

Speaking to, Mr. Skates said it has been “really helpful in terms of being able to look at Buckley and look at the routes through the town.”

He said: “I’m not surprised councillors have raised concerns, these concerns are consistent with what I’ve heard around Wales.”

“Listening has always been a top priority for me, and I want to put communities at the heart of our thinking as we work with local councils to press ahead with refining the policy so that we get the right speeds on the right roads.”

“We all have a role to play in this process and that’s why I am encouraging people to be part of this national conversation and let their local council know which roads they think should be exempt so that we have the right speeds on the right roads.”

Cllr Richard Jones, Independent member who represents Bistre East expressed scepticism regarding Mr. Skates’ visit and the motives behind suggesting that an upcoming general election might be influencing decision-making.

“I think he’s doing the right thing, but there’s an election coming up, I’m sure that’s the motivator,” Cllr Jones remarked.

He recalled that during the initial pilot in Buckley, significant concerns were ignored, including insights from council officers highlighting issues.

“They [Welsh Government] changed the criteria at least three times throughout that period of a pilot.

I think they know they got it wrong and as soon as they’ve changed their Minister [Lee Waters] they’re trying to salvage the best they can and this is just a way of doing that because there is an election coming up and they’ll lose so many votes.

Flintshire’s Deputy Leader, Dave Hughes, said: “I am very grateful for Ken’s visit to Buckley today. This is the first step towards a much-needed review of the 20mph criteria.

“Flintshire County Council is looking forward to working closely with Welsh Government to ensure a positive outcome for our communities.”

Local resident James Smith [pictured above] said he has been protesting about the 20mph speed limits for 26 months, he said, “the whole thing has been rolled out wrongly.”

Mr. Smith doesn’t believe there will be any changes to the 20mph speed limits and believes any new criteria being set by the Welsh Government will “deliberately” create barriers for the council to change speed limits back.

He said all he wants is “a common sense approach” where the 20mph is implemented outside schools and in built-up areas.

As part of this process, the Cabinet Secretary is encouraging people from across Wales to contact their local council to let them know which roads should be exempted so that 20mph is better targeted. Information on how people can get involved is now available on the Welsh Government website.





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