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Increase in vandalism towards speed limit signs

11 Mar 2024 4 minute read
A car heading into New Inn, Pontypool having just passed the vandalised 20mph speed limit sign. Picture: LDRS

Twm Owen and Nicholas Thomas

At least 145 incidents of damage to speed limit signs have been recorded across five borough council areas since September when the 20 mile per hour limit was introduced. 

In the previous five years there were just 101 such incidents recorded by Gwent’s five councils.

Graffiti

Figures show the highest number of incidents of vandalism or damage to speed limit signs were recorded in the Torfaen and Caerphilly borough council areas. 

In Torfaen the council said its officers have received reports and inspected 55 signs since September 1 last year. 

In Caerphilly the council said from September 1 to the start of February there were 48 reports of damage to signs and a further five of signs having been graffitied.  

The new default speed limit – which reduced the maximum speed vehicles can travel at from 30mph to 20 in most residential areas – came into force on September 17 last year and prompted a public backlash that led to more than 469,000 people signing a petition to “rescind and remove the disastrous” lower limit.

Funding

The Welsh Government provided £34 million to Wales’ 22 councils for new signs required to alert drivers of the speed limit and since September there have been multiple reports of 20mph signs being vandalised, often with black spray paint obscuring the 20 figures. 

The Local Democracy Reporting Service obtained council figures for damage to signs. 

In Monmouthshire the council said since September it had recorded “at least 22” incidents of vandalism or damage to speed limit signs and it had “multiple” reports, which it described as at least four, in just three locations. 

The 20mph limit was trialed in Abergavenny and the Severnside area, including Caldicot, from 2022, and there had also been criticism and objections to the lower limit at that time. 

But Monmouthshire council reported just two incidents of damage or vandalism to speed limit signs during the past five years. 

In Torfaen the council recorded a total of 10 incidents of vandalism or damage to speed limit signs from 2019 to the 2022/23 financial year, with the most being four in 2021/22. 

In Blaenau Gwent the council said it has recorded 10 signs being “defaced” since September but just one incidence of vandalism or damage in the previous five years. 

It has spent £66 repairing the damaged signs since September while Caerphilly has said it has spent  £4,525.43 on repairing signs in the same period. It said it has put £10,000 of its Welsh Government grant for new signs, related to the 20mph limit, aside for repairs in the 2023/24 financial year. 

Repair costs

Newport City Council was unable to provide figures on the number of vandalism reports, but did say it had spent around £1,000 on repairing damaged signs since the national switch to 20mph. 

All councils said Welsh Government funding for new signs cover anticipated repair costs. 

Gwent Police figures show the force has recorded two incidents of vandalism to speed signs since September, leading to one person being arrested and charged. 

The force recorded eight incidents of speed limit sign vandalism in the five years before that, the figures show. 

In February the South Wales Argus reported Mark Lanchbury, 51, of Brynglas Avenue, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to a 20mph speed sign owned by Caerphilly council and was ordered to pay £1,285 in fines and costs. 

Lee Waters, the Welsh Government deputy minister responsible for overseeing the 20mph policy, this week said latest figures show 97 per cent of motorists are complying with the reduced limit that is intended to lead to fewer traffic accidents, injuries and deaths.


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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

It will happen, the more this is belittled and terms such as “blanket” lobbed about then people will begin to think they have a genuine beef with the law (defeat the policy not the actuals out in the real world where people can get harmed).

The Cons have picked on a wedge here and it is reminiscent of the blade runners in london. Group thinking is dictated by slogans, mob rule.

Tory party in Wales knew what they are doing as does HQ in No10 and the think tanks and Sunderland councillors.

TomTom82
TomTom82
30 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Why is it so hard for you to understand that people genuinely loathe the 20mph speed limit? The only time I see the term ‘blanket’ is here on Nation Cymru. What people like me hate is this policy was put forward by a Tory(funny how you forget that)and written into law by Labour. There was no real consultation with the public. There’s also no reason for it. Road safety has increased dramatically in the past 40 years.

blc
blc
30 days ago
Reply to  TomTom82

Why is it so hard for you to understand that feelings don’t matter when it comes to complying with speed limits, and that vandalising public property – which has to be paid for with *your* money – is not the way to protest? “I don’t like 20mph limits” is not an excuse to destroy road signs. I don’t like 70mph limits on motorways, I think it should be raised to 80mph, but I still stick to the 70mph limit… because that’s the law… Very few people who follow this story have forgotten that Andrew RT Davies was firmly behind the… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
30 days ago
Reply to  TomTom82

“Why is it so hard for you to understand that people genuinely loathe the 20mph speed limit?”

Speak for yourself, speaking as someone who walks to and from work everyday I’m all in favour of it.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Send the bill to ‘Blanketman’.

Jon_S
Jon_S
30 days ago

The poor hapless vandals have taken to vandalising other speed signs too. They’ve forgotten what they’re supposed to be campaigning against.

Richard E
Richard E
30 days ago

Just send the bills to JFS at her Llandudno HQ ……

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
30 days ago

I would like to see all those vandalising signs punished to the full extent allowed in law.

PeterC
PeterC
29 days ago

Not vandals. Just citizens exercising their democratic rights to express their view on a particularly stupid and draconian law that does not have a majority support. They have just as much right to protest as the Just Stop Anything Mob or the Palestinian marchers in London

FrankC
FrankC
29 days ago
Reply to  PeterC

It’s criminal damage and endangers other road users. Hopefully those responsible will be tracked down and prosecuted.

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