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Change of direction on 20mph will boost economy, say business leaders

30 Apr 2024 5 minute read
20mph zone.

Business leaders say the Welsh Government’s partial u-turn on the 20mph default speed limit will help provide a boost to the economy in Wales.

According to Wrexham Business Professionals, the plan unveiled by Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s new Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport, was potentially a “game changer”.

Mr Skates outlined his vision at a meeting of the group that’s made up of businesses and skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity in north Wales.

The process of reverting some roads from 20mph back to 30mph will begin in September.

It comes following intense publish backlash and a record breaking Senedd petition calling for the default speed limit to be scrapped.

In an apparent change of direction on the controversial speed limit, Mr Skates has urged people to contact local councils to tell them where they think changes should happen.

Supporters of the limit say the Welsh Government should keep communities at the heart of the policy.

The Welsh Conservatives say “nothing has changed”.

Ken Skates MS, Cabinet Secretary for Transport and North Wales

‘Step forward’

Wrexham Business Professionals committee member Ian Edwards, who chaired the event, said: “This is a significant step forward for the growth prospects of the north Wales economy.

“We welcome the change of direction which Ken Skates’s appointment brings. Since becoming an MS he has proven to be a determined and hard worker on behalf of his constituents here in north Wales and in Wales as a whole.

“It has had a serious, direct impact on the livelihoods of numerous small businesses, particularly those whose profit margins and business reputations rely on being able to get from A to B within set timeframes.

“We’re also extremely pleased to hear that key highways improvements in Wrexham and Flintshire areas could soon be back on the table.

Mr Skates also revealed his commitment to resurrect a plan to restructure the log jammed A494 and A55 dual carriageways taking traffic to and from the M56 along the Flintshire corridor.

Mr Edwards said: “We especially appreciate Mr Skates having chosen our meeting to confirm that the long talked about upgrade of the Flintshire Corridor at the gateway to north Wales is back on the agenda.

“In addition, he’s committed to finding a desperately needed solution for the Aston Hill bottleneck at Deeside.”

Mr Edward says poor road links and ineffective public transport services around Wrexham and Flintshire were at the forefront of any entrepreneur’s mind when considering expanding existing operations or setting up new businesses in the area.

He said: “The current gridlock of the A55 and A494 and its links to the M56 is hindering the entire region’s economic growth prospects.

“We cannot stress how important an issue this is to the business world and the creation of new jobs for the local economy.”

Mr Skates told the meeting he accepted that in some areas the lower limit was “not working”.

But, he insisted that the policy has been a huge success in other areas.

He said: “The truth is that this has worked. In many areas 20mph is the safest and most sensible option. To simply reinstate 30mph across the board would be a travesty in these situations. That is not what I am advocating.

“But we do need to revise and refine the policy, which is something we always said would be done after a period of time had passed and we had been able to assess how well it was working. We need to make revisions with humility and compassion and accept that on some roads the 20mph limit is not proving to be appropriate.”

On the Flintshire corridor and the creation of a more trunk roads in north Wales he said there was a lot of work to be done – although progress could be slowed by the transport department’s ever tightening budget.

Mr Skates has been critical of the decision to scrap the so-called Red Route.

The £300m scheme would have seen the construction of a new eight-mile dual carriageway, linking the A55 at Northop with the A494 and A550 north of Deeside Parkway Junction via the Flintshire Bridge.

An all-Wales review of planned road schemes saw it shelved along with other north Wales highways improvements including a third Menai Crossing to Anglesey.

Mr Skates said the A55 at Deeside was outdated and a formidable air pollution hazard for nearby communities,

He said: “It was never designed to take the enormous modern day traffic volumes it now handles.”

Mr Skates pledged that a new scheme would be implemented but warned that it would be done in the most sustainable way possible, making use of the latest roads construction technology and using design features to minimise air pollution in the surrounding landscape.

Wrexham AFC

The other guest speaker at the meeting was Professor Dylan Jones-Evans who said the global celebrity status of Wrexham AFC has given the city a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure unprecedented economic growth.

He said the impact of the club’s superstar owners, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, had been hugely positive but that local leaders must now invest significantly in home-grown businesses and incoming innovators to make the most of Wrexham’s  higher profile.

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22 days ago

It’s so tedious to see this twisting of the facts play out in real time.

The policy is being revised 6 months after implementation, which was always the plan. Guidance is being revised and updated, in consultation with local residents, communities, and businesses. Which, again, was always the plan.

A government delivering what it said it would deliver is not a “u-turn” or even a “partial u-turn”.

22 days ago

Can’t see a boast to any economy from speeding motorists passing through at always more than any speed limit. Gutless labour pandering to the foreign pressures. They had a policy in their manifesto and got put into power on it. Pandering to fake postcodes and people who never did 30 and make our residential streets a danger.

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
21 days ago

The A55 never boosted the economy in the North of Wales it just enabled businesses to service the market from England and encouraged long range commuting adding to the price of a lot of housing. Plus commercial traffic via Holyhead is still down.

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