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More could have been done to ‘prepare the ground’ for 20mph speed limits – Mark Drakeford

14 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford. PA Images/PA Wire

More could have been done to “prepare the ground” for Wales’ 20mph speed limits, the First Minister has admitted, as he stood by the policy.

Mark Drakeford, the outgoing Welsh leader, said people will look back on the policy – which has seen a lower speed limit introduced for built-up areas – as Wales leading the way.

However, he accepted that change is difficult, and the Welsh Labour Government could have done more to communicate the change.

The policy was introduced in September last year, with the promise that lower speed limits would lead to fewer collisions and people injured.

It has also seen fierce opposition from the Conservatives in the Senedd, who have branded it a “waste of time and resources”.

Enforcement

Enforcement of the policy is due to start on Monday (March 18).

Mr Drakeford said: “When you look back, I think we could have done more to try to prepare the ground to explain to people what we were intending to do.”

Mr Drakeford is in his last days as First Minister, with Vaughan Gething or Jeremy Miles to be announced as his successor on Saturday.

He said that while the policy had been in Labour’s manifesto during the last Senedd election, he understood that people in Wales “lead busy lives” and do not “spend their evenings flicking through the programme for government”.

“So there probably was more that we could have done,” he said. “In the end, no matter how much you prepare the ground, when change comes, it can be challenging.

“Look at the history of changes in relation to the way people use their motor cars, it’s always been challenging.

“Whether that was introducing 30mph speed limits, that wasn’t easy to do; the breathalyser was fiercely opposed by people, as was wearing seatbelts.

“I don’t think we look back now and say that was the wrong thing to do, we should allow people to spend the night in the pub and get in the car and drive home.

“In an era of climate change, we’re all going to have to travel differently. The idea that we can go on using up the world’s finite resources, for our own benefit in our own time and leave the problem for somebody after us to clear up, that cannot be a responsible way to approach these things.

“And tough as it has been in some ways, it remains a policy that will save people’s lives, that will prevent thousands of accidents, that has given people back the streets that they live in.

“Very few people argue for the street they live in to go back to 30 miles an hour.”

‘Drive faster’

He said – as a motorist himself – people can be keen to have change in their own streets but wish to drive faster down other people’s.

“I think people will look back in the future and say Wales was in the lead. No, we are doing things that other people will follow.”

However, he also said that as a proportion more roads in England are 20mph than in Wales, it was not “something extraordinary” that had been done in the country, which he called “one of the ironies” of the debate.

“We’ve been fiercely attacked, foolishly attacked, by some Tory MPs who have more 20 mile an hour road to their own constituencies, than we will in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford said he was “quite sure” that Keir Starmer, the Labour leader in Parliament, will be looking at what they have done and whether any elements of it could be applied to England if he wins the next general election.


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Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
4 months ago

I agree with the concept of 20 mph, but the implementation was farcical. The messages from the Welsh Government about driving at 20 mph when there were houses and street lighting either side of the road wasn’t applicable in many local cases. What they should have said is drive at a speed indicated by the road signs – just follow the Highway Code. Also 20 mph shouldn’t have been implemented as a one day ‘Big Bang’ it should have been implemented on a local basis over several months. The farcical implementation has damaged the reputation of both the Welsh Government… Read more »

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
4 months ago

I agree more thought about its roll out should have been completed first. However, the reason why there has been such a stink here is because the Conservatives and right wing press have made it a big issue. A number of cities across the UK had implemented 20mph zones well before the Welsh government’s decision, Cardiff included. Where was the uproar then? The issue has been overhyped by Tories hoping to gain an extra vote from it, the same thing is happening regarding the farmers. They call themselves ‘Welsh’ conservatives – but their motives are not for the benefit of… Read more »

Richard
Richard
4 months ago

There are few more decent guys than Mark and i feel were soon going to miss him. Honest, open and focused for sure; hard working and with a vision for a better Wales definatly. The sad thing is his kindly manner, and obvious courtesy plus willingness to work with others comes with an ability to give a “ mother knows best “ snd top down method of delivery and of course the Labour in Wales modus operandi of mainly being advised by “ trusted friends “ who in practice tell you what you want to hear. ARTD and chums have… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Personally, I find him intellectually dishonest and a little self-righteous. Still, head and shoulders above anything the Tories have to offer.

Anthony Marchment
Anthony Marchment
3 months ago

20 mph in appropriate built up areas, by schools, hospitals and other conjested areas IS a good thing.
However, many of the roads now restricted to this limit seem at odds with other similar roads where it does not apply. The inconsistency of application is frustrating and confusing to motorists and all other road users.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
3 months ago

The actual implementation (by which I mean the exemptions to the 20mph limit) is down to the local authorities: any inconsistencies are down to the local authority implementation, not the general principal. I also have to take issue with the whole idea of ‘it’s OK outside schools etc.’ – how far from schools exactly? Half a mile? One mile? Two miles? Three miles? Remember, most school children live more than a couple of hundred metres from their school – in fact, to qualify for free bus transport to/from school a child must live more than two miles from their school… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago

After Uxbridge massive loss of votes by the Cons (but slim win thinking it was a ULEZ issue), it was inevitable that it would be gamed. There are a lot of think tanks and press barons that have the Conservative party back and will run interference for them. Not sure there would have been any other outcome. Not sure there are any politicos opposite the conservatives that are prepared for the depths the Tory will go to mess this up. Listen to Gove today, 10 mil in the bank (and hearing it is a greater figure today) but don’t mean… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago

“More could have been done to prepare the way for 20mph” Which was exactly my point when I commented originally when folk decided to vote it down. The breakdown happened in communicating with the LA’s and ensuring that arterial routes remained at 30mph as the exemptions the law permits. This required leadership which was not forthcoming. Consequently, the LA’s were left to themselves and we have the current situation in which a few have been a little bit better in applying these exemptions than the majority. As a result, where the limit is clearly too low, people have rightly seen… Read more »

James
James
3 months ago

We don’t look back as “Wales leading the way”. We look back and wonder how on earth did we allow you conduct another social experiment on the people of Wales. Without any thought you “Mark Drakeford” have imposed another ideological social policy on us. Its all very well me pull you up on it, but let me give you an idea what you could have done…. You could have; 1, Not had a blanket 20mph on all roads. There are so many road that do not justify 20mph and should have remained 30mph or even 40mph. To add, there are… Read more »

Rob jones
Rob jones
3 months ago

Dictators don’t care about the electorate they just do what they want even when it is farcical

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob jones

Dictator? He’s just one of 60 democratically elected Senedd members who each had a vote on the policy.

Just because a government implements a policy you don’t agree with doesn’t make it a dictatorship so you really, really, REALLY need to grow up and get over yourself.

Pathetic.

Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob jones

Conundrum. Labour had this in the manifesto, people that were registered to vote, voted labour in. However a petition gets a few sus sign ups but we are supposed to take a petition over the vote. And the Dictator is stepping down when he said he would, new at being a dictator?.

And if the Tory party in Wales remove ARTD and get someone decent in, they could win the next Senedd election. Dictators tend to go to the bitter end or when the is a coup.

So, where are these dictators.

Why vote
Why vote
3 months ago

Well at least we have all slowed down as the labour dictators wanted we are now living around about 1935 when vehicles were slower. The pace of life is going in reverse yes backwards. And we were all forced to respect our politicians like them or not ( thats if we were allowed to vote )Notice how 20mph roads are quiet as drivers are taking the long way around where it is quicker than 20mph roads to reach your destination more emissions more fuel consumption more time, this has to be the maddest law ever passed by any government on… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

A smiley glibness is creeping in…

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