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Council to consider Tory MS’s 20mph road exemption list

09 Dec 2023 4 minute read
“20mph Zone” by EdinburghGreens is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Emily Price

A local authority has confirmed it will consider a list submitted by a Tory MS of roads to be made exempt from the 20mph default speed limit.

Last week, Member of the Senedd for Vale of Clwyd, Gareth Davies, submitted a letter to Denbighshire County Council requesting exemptions from the 20mph speed restriction on seventeen separate highways.

The Welsh Conservative MS said he had received “extensive queries” from his constituents on the matter of the new road regulation which came into force on September 17 this year.

It saw most roads in Wales that were 30mph switch to 20mph – although councils have discretion to impose exemptions.

The Welsh Government has provided guidance for councils to follow when deciding which routes should remain at 30mph.


Some local authorities have been criticised since the speed limit roll out for not consulting properly on which roads should “opt out” of the new default speed limit.

This is thought to be because department resources are overstretched.

Fears have been raised among some councils that if a road were to be changed back to 30mph and there is a death on that road – a council could be legally liable.

The Welsh Conservatives have argued that guidance set by the Welsh Government to exempt roads has left councils with limited discretion.

The list of roads submitted to Denbighshire County Council was drawn up following consultation with Mr Davies’ constituents.

On Wednesday (December 6) the council confirmed that the list of suggestions will be formally considered by officers who are in the process of visiting areas that Mr Davies submitted for review.

These will then be presented to the council’s Cabinet.


The controversial new default speed limit has so far been met with fierce opposition in Wales and a petition calling for it to be reversed has reached over 466,000 signatures – the most in Senedd history.

The Welsh Conservatives have heavily opposed the change due to its cost and the party has promised voters that if they were ever in power in Wales, they would axe it.

Mr Davies said: “I do welcome the cooperation of Denbighshire County Council, and I am pleased that they have listened to the concerns of my constituents, with the council’s agreement to inspect the roads that I proposed.

“I am also slightly disappointed that we are unable to obtain a clearer commitment. I hope that the council’s Cabinet will be briefed on the suggested roads, and that exemptions from the 20mph speed limit will be applied”.

“The correspondence from Denbighshire County Council also demonstrates that despite the Welsh Government’s insistence that local authorities have the discretion to overturn the 20mph restriction on certain routes, councils nonetheless appear to be apprehensive about interfering in what they see as legislation from Cardiff Bay within which they have little wiggle room.”

Mark Isherwood regional Member of the Senedd for north Wales had previously met with council alongside his fellow party member.

He said: “When Gareth Davies and I met Denbighshire County Council last month to discuss the County’s implementation of the Welsh Government’s default 20mph speed limit in Wales, we were told that although the Council would collate and consider additional requests for exemptions, they had to keep ‘to the letter of the law’ stipulated by the Welsh Government.

“Despite the protestations of Welsh Government Ministers, their exceptions policy leaves Councils with limited discretion. Instead of top-down diktats from Cardiff, we need sensible case-by-case speed limits that reflect local knowledge and local people’s wishes.”

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson said: “We have noted and received the seventeen suggested exceptions put forward.

“In the new calendar year, we plan to review the potential for further exceptions to the default 20 mph speed limit and will consider these suggested exceptions as part of that review.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The message from highway authorities in Wales has been clear – we want to allow time for the new speeds to settle before making changes to the exceptions guidance.

“We respect feedback and have agreed to work collaboratively with local highway authorities on the application of the guidance in different parts of Wales. We will also look at the approach taken to roads on the threshold between 20mph and 30mph, as well as supporting councils where they are keen to rapidly address obvious anomalies.

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2 months ago

This is great news, for not only the locals, but for democracy in Cymru. A opposition MS, offering a honest proposal with no hyperbole, that should benefit his constituents. Please can we have more of this, as I am sure we all want a functioning democracy and not a one party state, or the current situation where the majority of Tory MS seem to just parrot Westminster, and offer nothing constructive, to the detriment of Cymru and its people.

2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

You don’t understand how democracy works do you.
Tories making roads more dangerous and getting us to pay for it !

2 months ago

And when the first fatality occurs on a stretch of road that is reclassified from 20mph to 30mph? “It was nothing to do with me”.

2 months ago

Good news I think – Mark Isherwood enjoys wide public respect from across the board and this along with DCC not putting in fairly obvious local exemptions will perhaps see the 20 mph limit respected more.

Ap Kenneth
2 months ago

Different councils seem to think the discretion is wider that Denbighshire or Wrexham think. Have a look at Pontypridd Road in Barry on google streetview, kept at 30mph by Vale of Glamorgan in R T Davies’s patch. I am surprised but some councils have been ultra cautious or plain lazy in reviewing their networks. There are many roads on the edges of urban areas where the old 30mph zone was extended a distance out beyond the last road fronting house, eg Trevor in Wrexham and where the 20mph zone could now be pulled in leaving a 30 mph buffer for… Read more »

2 months ago

So if someone is involved in a fatal accident after the speed limit is put back to 30mph how are the Council liable? Road accidents consist of several variables and speed is one. Police have to take into account the weather, road conditions, condition of the vehicles involved under (Con & Use regs.), whether the driver was fit to drive or under the influence of alcohol/drugs. Therefore their liability would be no different than those of other roads that they are responsible for.

2 months ago
Reply to  Simondc1711

You only have to join the funeral processions of cars and vans to see that this 20mph imposition deserves little respect

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