Posted: Tue 23rd Apr 2024

Transport Secretary plans revisions to 20mph speed limits

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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Cabinet Secretary for Transport Ken Skates has today announced a ‘change of course’ on Wales’ controversial 20mph policy.

He said there would be new guidance and funding to assist local councils in reverting some roads back to 30mph.

However, 20mph limits will likely remain outside schools, hospitals, and built-up residential areas.

The newly appointed Cabinet Secretary confirmed that the Welsh Government will be embarking on a “genuine programme of listening to people” regarding 20mph speed limits.

This will include encouraging local residents to contact Flintshire Council to suggest where they believe 20mph limits should be applied.

In a comprehensive statement delivered to the Senedd this afternoon, Mr Skates said the ‘listening’ programme would gather feedback from a broad spectrum of society, including bus drivers, emergency services, police, youth, vulnerable groups, businesses, and local councils.

Introduced on 17 September 2023, the 20mph legislation made Wales the first nation to set such a limit as the default on all restricted roads.

However, the new law prompted nearly 470,000 people to sign a petition against it—the largest ever received by the Welsh Parliament.

In response, the Welsh Government is now revising its exceptions guidance, seeking input from local councils and conducting an external review.

Alongside a national listening programme, the Welsh Government said it would work jointly with local authorities to prepare the ground for changes, revising the guidance on which local roads can be exempted from the 20mph limit.

The revised guidance will be published in July, with Councils expected to start detailed consultations on the changes from September.

The move is part of a three-phase plan which includes:

  •  A genuine programme of listening to people. Between now and July we will listen to citizens; to bus drivers, emergency services, the police, to young people, vulnerable people, to businesses and to councillors in county, town and community councils, in order to understand their perspectives on road safety in residential areas.
  • Work in partnership with key bodies to prepare the ground for change.  Councils are already looking at local roads where changes might be needed. As part of our listening programme, we will encourage people to get in touch with their local council to tell them where they think 20mph should be targeted.  Alongside this, the Welsh Government will revise the exceptions guidance, again by working in partnership with councils
  • Deliver the necessary changes on the ground. Once local authorities have worked with communities and new guidance is finalised, highway authorities will be able to commence the process of adjusting speed limits on relevant roads. We expect this process to begin from September.

Mr Skates said: “We’ve started by listening. I have been clear in all my conversations that we will put communities at the heart of our thinking and will listen to people.

“As I have already said there is growing consensus on safe speeds in communities that we can build from. We continue to believe 20mph is the right speed limit in places such as near schools, hospitals, nurseries, community centres, play areas and in built-up residential areas.

“The principal objective of the policy is to save lives and reduce casualties on our roads.  What I am doing now is listening to what people want for the roads in their communities, and pressing ahead with refining the policy and getting the right speed on the right roads. .”

Over the next months the Cabinet Secretary is encouraging people in Wales to let their council know where they think 20mph could be better targeted.

The Transport Secretary added: “Ultimately, the degree of change in each of our 22 local authority areas will not be determined by me and the Welsh Government, but by the public and by councils as the highway authority for most residential roads.”

The Welsh Conservatives have criticised today’s announcement, describing it as a mere communications exercise with no real changes to the policy.

Responding, Natasha Asghar, Conservative MS and Shadow Transport Minister, said:

 “All of Labour’s talk of change on their flawed 20mph speed limit was sadly just a comms exercise which has consequently made people from all corners of Wales believe that their roads will be going back to 30mph.

“The bottom line is that after all of Labour’s talk about listening to the Welsh people, the default speed limit across Wales will remain 20mph. Nothing has changed to everyone inside and outside of Wales.

“Instead of making councils clean up the mess of this daft, divisive and destructive policy, it should be scrapped in its entirety, so common sense can prevail and 20mph remains where it is needed such as outside Schools, play areas, high streets, places of worship etc.”

Ken Skates statement in full:

“When I took up this role, I set my team three priorities: to listen, to work in partnership and to make change happen where it is needed. 

“On 20mph, we have started that listening. I have been clear in all my conversations that we will put communities at the heart of our thinking and that we will listen to the voices of all citizens. 

“As I set out in the Senedd last week, there is growing consensus on safe speeds in communities that we can build from. 

“The Welsh Government continues to believe that 20mph is the right speed limit in places such as near schools, hospitals, nurseries, community centres, play areas and in built-up residential areas. This is particularly the case when children and vulnerable people are in close contact with traffic. 

“The principal objective of the policy is to enable people to feel safer in their communities through reducing collisions. What I am doing now is listening to what people want for the roads in their communities, and pressing ahead with refining the policy and getting the right speed on the right roads. 

“To achieve this, we are initiating a number of actions.

“The first element of my approach is to have a genuine programme of listening to people. Between now and July we will listen to citizens; to bus drivers, emergency services, the police, to young people, vulnerable people, to businesses and to councillors in county, and town and community councils, in order to understand their perspectives on road safety in residential areas.

“In the last week I have met leaders and lead transport members from every local authority across Wales to reinforce my commitment to work with them as the decision-makers over speed limits on most roads. I am pleased that all have agreed to work in partnership with me in the coming weeks and months. 

“The second element of my plan is to work in partnership with key bodies to prepare the ground for change. 

“Councils are already looking at local roads where changes might be needed. As part of our listening programme, I will encourage people to get in touch with their local council to tell them where they think 20mph should be targeted. 

“Information on how you can do this will be available on the Welsh Government website. I will also work with town and community councils to make sure their voices are a part of this national conversation.

“Alongside this, the Welsh Government will revise its exceptions guidance, again by working in partnership with councils. 

“I am pleased to inform Members today that my officials have asked the existing external review to bring their work to a rapid conclusion. I expect to receive their final report within the next few weeks, and I will publish it as soon as possible.

“I will then publish revised exceptions guidance by the summer. This will allow for local authorities to better target 20mph on appropriate roads. I am delighted to report today that in order to support that process, we will draw on advice from the County Surveyors Society, who will also be available to provide advice and support on changes to all local authorities. Ultimately the decision rests with the highway authority.

“The third element is to then deliver the necessary changes on the ground. Once local authorities have worked with communities and new guidance is finalised, highway authorities will be able to commence the process of adjusting speed limits on relevant roads. I expect this process to begin from September. 

“Ultimately, the degree of change in each of our 22 local authority areas will not be determined by me and the Welsh Government, but by the public and councils as the highway authority for most residential roads. 

“And let me be clear on another important point that’s emerged through my engagement with Council leaders this week. 

“I absolutely recognise the range of pressures facing our partners in local government, and this Government is committed to ensuring they have the resources they need to implement changes. We will not expect councils, who are facing difficult financial pressures, to cover the cost of adjusting routes back to 30mph.

“To summarise; we will listen, work in partnership with councils and support delivery of targeted change on the ground.” 

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