Posted: Tue 12th Jul 2022

Wales becomes the first nation to say yes to 20mph

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jul 12th, 2022

Members of the Senedd have voted in favour of landmark legislation to reduce speed limits on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets from 30mph to 20mph.

Following today’s vote, Wales will become the first nation in the world to adopt a 20mph default speed limit on residential streets.

New legislation, which will come into effect in 2023, means that many roads which currently operate as 30mph areas will reduce the speed limit to 20mph.

The new slower speed limits are currently being trialled in eight communities across Wales and will be rolled out nationally in September 2023.

As part of the pilot, reduced speed limits which came which force at end of February in Buckley, Drury, Burntwood, Alltami, New Brighton, Mynydd Isa, and Bryn Baal, have seen a fierce backlash from local residents.

“The new legislation will not apply a blanket speed limit on all roads, it will simply make the default limit 20mph, leaving local authorities, who know their area best, to engage with the local community to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.” The Welsh Government has said.

During today’s debate, Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant raised the concerns of local residents, he said:

“I represent the community of Buckley that’s taken part in the pilot scheme for these proposed changes, and what’s important to me, Minister, is that we do learn the lessons from this trial.”

“It’s critical that we learn lessons from Buckley and the other areas across Wales. ”

“But it has to be about a mature relationship between local authorities, who understand their local communities and the communities they serve—in this particular case, Flintshire County Council—and the Welsh Government.”

Jack said: “I must say, the correspondence I have received reaches far further than just Buckley itself, it reaches right across the community of Alyn and Deeside, which I represent.”

“My residents have genuine concerns about many arterial roads. Many do support 20 mph on most roads, including housing estates, near schools et cetera, but they do want exemptions for those main and arterial roads, and I understand and share these concerns.”

“I have to be frank about that. So, Minister, if we are going to make 20 miles per hour a default position—not a blanket position, but a default position—we do need to find a way that local authorities are empowered to identify these particular roads.”

Jack said: “An example of a particular road is Liverpool Road in Buckley in my own constituency. They have those powers, they apply those exemptions, where they deem necessary.”

“So, can you confirm clearly and on the record today here in the Chamber that local authorities will have the power to do this with, and in communication with, the local communities who have that local knowledge.”

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:  “There will be an exceptions process. The exceptions process has been developed by a group working with us and our local authorities to work out the most efficient way of doing the exceptions process, to take into account what is the evidential base needed, what are the views of the local people and the local councillors, and how that authority can make the ruling without the threat of judicial review and challenge of course—that it has the right evidential base—and so that we don’t have wildly differing exceptions criteria across Wales. ”

“But in the end, it will be the local authority as the transport authority that makes that process.”

Currently, just 2.5% of Welsh roads have a speed limit of 20mph, but from next year this is expected to increase to approximately 35%, helping to create safer roads and communities across Wales.

Speaking after the vote, Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “I am delighted that the move to 20mph has received cross-party support across the Welsh Parliament today.

“The evidence is clear, decreasing speeds not only reduces accidents and saves lives, but helps improve people’s quality of life – making our streets and communities a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, whilst helping reduce our environmental impact.

“We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag charges and organ donation.

“Once again Wales is leading the way for other UK nations to follow.”

Living Streets Cymru is part of the UK charity for everyday walking and a member organisation of the 20mph Welsh Government Task Force Group, which provided evidence to support the 20mph restriction.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets, said: “I’m thrilled that Welsh politicians have voted in favour of this life-changing legislation. Introducing 20mph as the default speed on our streets will improve the places where we live, work and go to school – and it will also save lives.”

“When the speed limit is reduced from 30mph to 20mph there is typically an average decline in casualties of at least 20%.”

“We will continue to work with Welsh Government to ensure that our streets and pavements are safe and accessible for everyone in our communities, so that we’re likely to walk or cycle more, which is good for our health and pollution levels.”

39 Labour and Plaid Cymru Senedd Members voted in favour of the proposals, 15 Conservative against, there were no abstensions.

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