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Council leader slams ‘madness’ of new 20mph speed limit

05 Oct 2023 4 minute read
Wrexham council leader Mark Pritchard.

Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter

A council leader has described the introduction of Wales’ new 20mph speed limit as “madness” and said that money spent on it could have been used to safeguard local services.

As Wrexham Council seeks to plug a projected £23m in-year budget overspend, leader Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) says more attention needs to be paid by the UK government and Welsh Government to the financial struggles being faced by local authorities up and down the country.

Speaking at a council media briefing, Cllr Pritchard questioned plans to increase the number of MS’s in the Senedd and even queried whether the provision of free prescriptions for everyone in Wales should continue.

But the £33m being spent by the Welsh Government on introducing the 20mph speed limit last month drew most of his ire.

Cllr Pritchard said: “What really angers me, and I try to be balanced on this – we as 22 local authorities (across Wales) deliver services to the most vulnerable in our society, and we’re struggling because we’re not funded appropriately.

“They seem to think we’ll just keep on delivering. We do, but we just end up reducing the service. You deliver a less quality service and do what you can.

“I think it’s madness what they’re doing at this moment in time, spending millions of pounds on 20mph.

“It’s not the right time to do it, they should stop immediately and start funding local authorities appropriately because it’s all about choice.”

Review

Cllr Pritchard added: “They’re looking to introduce more MS’s. It’s as if the world’s turned upside down in Cardiff, I just can’t understand it.

“There’s always a political time to do things and this is not the time to do what they’re doing, and I do think they need to review it.

“I’m really pleased there’s a robust challenge now from the general public on the 20mph, the petition, it’s playing out nationally.

“I would ask the Welsh Government to look at what they give.

“Do we need to give everyone free prescriptions across the country – in my opinion, no. Some people can pay for it and would willingly pay for it to take the pressure off the budget for the health board and that money could be transferred to local authorities.

“It’s madness that in these extremely difficult times, cost-of-living, electricity, utilities bills going through the roof that you’ve got governments implementing things.

“I’ve been in politics a long time, and I think they need to start listening and seeing what’s going on out there as I’m not sure they understand.

“When the First Minister is questioned in the Senedd and he gives a one-word answer ‘no’, that worries me.

“I have to come out as the leader of a council doing its very best to deliver services, when I think our budgets are being cut when they could give us more money.”

Promise

Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference introducing the new default speed limit, First Minister Mark Drakeford defended the £32 million cost of the 20mph roll-out, saying it would save the NHS three times as much a year.

“This is a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party, and it was in our election manifesto,” Mr Drakeford said.

“Politicians are very often criticised for not keeping their promises and this is a promise that we will be keeping here in Wales.

“We will invest around £32 million in one-off expenditure and that one-off money will save £92 million every single year in the NHS.

“We will be paid back many, many times over for the investment that we are making.”


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Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
7 months ago

Mark Pritchard runs a council that has ignored it’s road network for the last decade, one where filling potholes means putting tarmac in the hole then running the back wheels of the truck over it to squash it in. He rather wastes money on city status or city of culture and then expects gratitude for the wonderful job he is not doing.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago

It’s pretty telling when you do a little online research and discover that Cllr Pitchard along with other ‘Independents’ plus nine Tory councillors run Wrexham in coalition. Just maybe too much of a smell of ARTD there. But, let’s just take some of his ideas and run with them: prescriptions – most were already free anyway, and the cost of the bureaucracy would have negated any income if prescription charges were levied. If Cllr Pritchard really cared about local government funding he would be targeting the real villains, the Tory Westminster government, who have imposed the economically illiterate ideological austerity… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Maybe Padi we should cut some of the critics a bit of slack. It is now well understood that the Westminster regime is a total crock of effluent, but having a government in the Bay that doesn’t register quite the same level of impact on the “blunder scale” is not really good enough. We need a regime that can do better with limited resources, that can demonstrate that it is less wasteful and more focussed than the big money grinder the other end of the M4. It saddens me that despite the horrific experience of the last 15-20 years that… Read more »

Dwr Drewllyd
7 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Cardiff Bay is a match for Westminster in every respect.

Glen
Glen
7 months ago
Reply to  Dwr Drewllyd

Careful, you aren’t allowed to say such things on Nation Labour.

Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago
Reply to  Dwr Drewllyd

Nice trolling, lol.

Dwr Drewllyd
7 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Nice trolling, lol.

Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago
Reply to  Dwr Drewllyd

Below is a list of 14 MP’s who have been sacked or resigned for “sexual misconduct ” in the last few years. If your statement is correct, please can you list the Senedd equivalent.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/may/18/list-of-sexual-misconduct-allegations-made-against-mps&ved=2ahUKEwiZ0uL7-OCBAxVBQkEAHaYzAHcQFnoECBUQAQ&usg=AOvVaw0rKQorvMnGrZxKkC7fJSUD

Last edited 7 months ago by Gareth
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I’m not opposed to criticism of the Welsh Government where there are grounds, and let’s face it, there are plenty of grounds. But to have a go using the new default speed limit that will likely save three times what it will cost every year as an argument is risible, as is criticising the expansion of the Senedd, a move that will cost £18 million, and will result in Wales being better governed as a result because there will be more oversight in a system that is much more complex than when devolution was introduced, and as a result, better… Read more »

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
7 months ago

‘The world’s turned upside down in Cardiff’. Couldn’t agree more.

Jeff
Jeff
7 months ago

Always wary of people that want to lose “free” prescriptions.
It is interesting now how the “petition” and rhetoric around it has been seized and amplified by certain parts of the political spectrum and press.
Lets see how it pans out before panning it.
But would love to see the data we wont get to see on the people signing said petition.

Jordan carruthers
7 months ago

How can he be so out of touch with the people of Wales.

Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago

Marks lack of love for anywhere south of Oswestry is long standing.

His yearning for links to a greater north west of England tire everyone locally and his coalition of x Labour , anyone but Labour will not last,

His current love affair with anti Cardiff Deeside Labour which is set to fail will allow him to support more Chester over spill housing in the old mining villages around Wrecsam – which he hopes to keeping his grip on power.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
7 months ago

Whoever Dyfrig put in charge made a good job of it in Gwynedd…

max wallis
max wallis
7 months ago

Not another Trumpian popularist ! Politicians whose cry is “madness” damage hopes of rational discussion in Wales. 30 km per hour (18.5mph) limits are becoming the standard in civilised communities. The 2020 Stockholm declaration, endorsed by transport ministers worldwide set 20mph as the appropriate limit wherever vulnerable road users mix with motorised vehicles. The clear message is adoption of 20 mph as a default limit is necessary on urban and village streets where people live, work and visit. The declaration also endorses the wide benefits of such lower speeds beyond just road safety to include air quality, public health and… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
7 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

A 30 km per hour will make common sense, when Wales dets a proper electric rail system and we have electric vehicles for local traffic linking rural area.

Let’s concentrate on removing petrol and diesel vehicles from our roads and railway.
Electric is the future.
Wind, tidal, solar and wave power is the future for electricity generation.
Let’s invest for the future.

Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago

Point well made mate 🤔

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