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Mark Drakeford highlights benefits of new 20 mph speed limits

11 Sep 2023 4 minute read
20mph sign. Picture by Carmarthenshire County Council. Picture by Ashlee Ruggels / PA Wire. Mark Drakeford (right) Picture by Doubledoppler (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The controversial new 20mph speed limit in Wales will save lives and money, the First Minister has insisted, as he rejected calls to pause the rollout for residential roads.

Mark Drakeford said cutting speed from 30mph to 20mph would protect lives and claimed it would save the NHS in Wales £92 million a year.

On September 17 Wales will follow Spain, which made a similar change in 2019, and has since reported a fall in urban road deaths.

Most roads in Wales that are currently 30mph will become 20mph, although councils do have discretion to impose exemptions.

The Welsh Conservatives, who are opposed to the rollout, have tabled a motion in the Senedd this week to scrap the policy.

Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference, the First Minister defended the £32 million cost and said 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.

“I’m reinforced in my belief that it is the right thing to do from the experience we see elsewhere in the world.

“Spain, which has had this policy in place over recent years, have seen a 20% reduction in urban deaths on the roads.”

Challenging

Mr Drakeford said Wales had led the way in delivering “progressive” policies and cited the example of introducing deemed consent for organ donation.

“While I understand that all change is challenging, I’m also confident that once it’s there and people get used to it, people will find the advantages of it,” he said.

“Just as other changes in the field of road transport – the breathalyser, seatbelt wearing, other speed limits controversial in that time – are completely accepted now.

“Wales has often led the way in progressive policies. We are used to them being controversial at the time that we introduced them.

“When we changed the law in relation to organ donation, no other part of the UK was willing to do the same thing. Now every part of the UK does so.

“I’m reconciled to a period of turbulence when you make a change but I also confident that once the policy is operating people will see that it is a sensible and progressive thing to do.

“It will prevent accidents, it will save lives, and it will be absolutely worth doing.”

There have been reports of the new signs being defaced in areas including Conwy, Gwynedd, Newport, Torfaen, Wrexham and Flintshire.

The Conservatives cited Welsh Government documents that estimate the cost to Welsh economy of increased journey times from lower average vehicle speeds at anywhere between £2.7 billion and £8.9 billion.

‘Vanity projects’

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Senedd Conservatives, said: “Mark Drakeford said flippantly that the £33 million cost of blanket 20mph limits were a ‘small cost to pay’, but again failed to mention the up to £8.9 billion hit to the Welsh economy as outlined in his own explanatory papers, which is absolutely not a small cost given current economic pressures.

“As our unemployment numbers, NHS waiting lists and education outcomes languish at the bottom of the UK league tables, Mark Drakeford should be focusing on the day job and should cancel his distracting vanity projects.

“The Welsh Conservatives would rather see the money set to be wasted on pet programmes spent on our Welsh NHS to cut the cruel two-year waits that nearly 30,000 Welsh patients still have to face, that exist nowhere else in the UK.

“Why aren’t Labour ringfencing our Welsh NHS from their damaging cuts?”


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WilliamsG
WilliamsG
5 months ago

Let’s have a referendum on it. If the majority of people in Wales are in favour I will accept this being imposed on us.

Silenced!
Silenced!
5 months ago
Reply to  WilliamsG

I’m all for it. Great idea.
Don’t need a referendum every time something happens that some people don’t like. This is why we elect others to make the decisions. Referendums are the actions of political cowardice by ideologues. There has never been an honest referendum in Brexistan

David
David
5 months ago
Reply to  Silenced!

Some times we elect people who dont know thier ar-e from thier elbows a lot like you.So be silenced.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago
Reply to  WilliamsG

It was in the manifesto, 2021. And reported at the time.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago

We need to take a long term look on the transport system in Wales, as every other country should do. The problem is using the combustion engine. Why are we still using this old & not ideal technology ? Would you want to go back to steam power ? We are glad to see the back of steam for all the pollution and dirt it created. We will feel the same when petrol and diesel becomes redundant. Why don’t we all just move on ? 40 million combustion engines is an environmental disaster for the world. The future is electric… Read more »

saveenergy
saveenergy
5 months ago

“The future is electric transport. Electricity generated by the wind, the tide and sun energy.” Don’t be silly … we cant generate enough electricity for present demand; currently the unreliables are producing 21% of demand ( Gas & coal is supplying 58%) & we are importing 6% from the EU. The grubbyment’s crazy plan is to move all heating to electric & have all cars & light vans as electric !!!… that extra load would require approx 6x existing generating capacity to be built, plus the whole of the grid would need to be quadrupled ( taking 20-40 years &… Read more »

max wallis
max wallis
5 months ago
Reply to  saveenergy

Pompous “saveenergy” ignores the “laws of physics” in asserting heating demands are to be met by electrical heating. All know that insulation and conservation is the main answer. S/he quotes cites gross UK figures in talking of “we”. All in Wales are proud of Dinorwig pumped storage, which defeated “laws of physics” as s/he understands them. This century, all are aware that el-storage and demand management are an important part of solutions.Also exchanges between countries via subsea cables, as we have to Ireland and Scotland.

saveenergy
saveenergy
5 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

Dinorwig pumped storage only works because of laws of physics ! The main plant has average of 74–76% efficiency, but there are additional thermal loses in the 10 kilometers of refrigerated 400 kV buried transmission lines on the way to the substation at Pentir. In theory it could generate at full output (1,800 MW ) for ~ 6hrs, it would then take ~ 9hrs of available excess electricity to refill the top pound ( Marchlyn Mawr ) but as it is a black-start station, they keep a good reserve. It’s the pompous mentally changed dorks in Westminster & Cardiff asserting heating demands… Read more »

Mark
Mark
5 months ago

Explain the sheer global cost of mining the rare materials, let alone the destruction of the eco system, for electric cars. Then look at the total cost of producing the equipment to produce electric. Then analyse and look at the differences of ice and electric. Ice far outweigh electric in terms of green merits

max wallis
max wallis
5 months ago

The Tories bang on about an £8.9 billion blow to the economy, when Will Hayward demolished that kind of number. It’s made up of trips taking a minute or two longer, giving a value to each minute lost and grossing the total up over 30 years. Quite imaginary!

saveenergy
saveenergy
5 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

Politicians are good at coming up with imaginary numbers.
Last week I went to a seminar run by Virginia Crosby MP, on the ‘Anglesey Free-port’ , claiming 13,000 jobs !! where someone in the room (who’d done their home work) pointed out that the 13,000 jobs ( from a computer muddle ) was over 15yrs & covered ALL of North Wales; but Anglesey is ~ 10% of the area, so suddenly the headline 13,000 jobs turns into just 86 jobs/yr for Anglesey.
Crosby tried to spin but failed.

Paul
Paul
5 months ago

Maybe next we should all move into bungalows, ensure we all wear helmets and protective gear as soon as we venture outside and perhaps ban cars altogether.
Treating modern folk like inept babies.
The next election will be only the second time in my life where I vote other than Labour. Pathetic condescending buffoon

CapM
CapM
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Which party are you going to vote for?

Mike J
Mike J
5 months ago

I’ve always voted Labour, but now you’ve lost my vote in the next Senedd elections, Welsh Labour. Not a chance will I vote for you again. 20mph, will just encourage people to overtake and take risks on our residential roads. 30 not 20.. Make your vote count, next election.. SIMPLE!

CapM
CapM
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike J

Which party are you going to vote for?

Mark
Mark
5 months ago

This was not mandated for. He went agains puplic feeling. Dismissed several petitions and instead is acting a bit like another labour person in london, forcing his will on people instead of representing them. Hope they get voted out

CapM
CapM
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark

In what way was it not ‘mandated’?

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