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Tories take final pop at Mark Drakeford on 20mph policy

19 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford during his final day in office.

Emily Price

The Welsh Conservatives have taken one final pop at Mark Drakeford over Wales’ controversial 20mph default speed limit.

The last ditch call to scrap the policy came during the outgoing First Minister’s last session to be quizzed by Senedd Members.

He will formally resign on Tuesday afternoon (March 19) after five years in office.

In September last year, Wales became the first UK nation to shift the 30mph default speed limit to 20mph.

The Welsh Government says the policy will save lives and save the NHS money.

The Welsh Tories have heavily opposed the new default speed limit and have promised to scrap it if they were ever in power in Wales.

Laughter

Welsh Conservative MS Tom Giffard was faced with groans and laughter from MSs in the Chamber when he raised the issue of speed restrictions in Wales during FMQs.

He wished the outgoing First Minister well before urging Mark Drakeford to make his final decision his “best one” by scrapping Wales’ 20mph default speed limit.

He said: “We know that last week the Senedd’s record breaking petition against the changes closed just shy of 470,000 signatures. It’s no surprise the policy proved deeply unpopular with the public.

“The government’s own figures say that the damage to the economy could be up to 9 billion pounds.

“So in the last few hours that you have in the job of First Minister, will you make your last decision your best one and scrap these 20mph speed limits?”

Proud

Responding, Mark Drakeford said he sometimes worries for Mr Giffard.

He said: “I think he deserves some better guidance from his colleagues than this question would suggest is available to him.

“I’m hugely proud of the fact that here in Wales we are at the leading edge of policy change that will happen far beyond Wales.

“We know it’s going to happen in Scotland, we see it happening in Ireland. We know that there are thousands of roads in England that are 20mph.

“And the reason that his predecessor David Melding initiated the debate on this on the floor of the Senedd is that in reducing just by a small amount the speed in which we drive in built up residential areas will save peoples lives.

“It will save thousand and thousands of people from the trauma of being seriously inured on our roads. It gives back those roads to the people who live on them.

“I’ve said in a series of interviews which I have had to give in the last few days that if you’re in the very fortunate position that I’ve been in, then you’re responsibility is to use the political capital you have, to use the opportunities that come your way.

“Not to do the easy things. Not to do the things that pander to populist headlines. But to do the things which can be difficult because change is always a challenge.

“Here in this government we are always determined that we will do the right thing rather than the thing that is convenient and popular at the time.

“I think 20mph speed limits are already changing people’s minds. I think it will go on doing that and before very long we will all look back and ask ourselves what the fuss was all about.

“Because we are not doing something together that will make such a difference in the lives of people who would otherwise not be here at all to tell us about it.”

‘Disappointed’

Speaking to Nation.Cymru following the exchange, Mr Giffard said: “Mark Drakeford’s last FMQs was a chance for him to change course on the defining policy of his premiership.

“People across Wales are angry at Labour’s top-down ‘we know best’ approach, best exemplified by their default 20mph policy.

“Just last week, the 470,000-strong Senedd petition against the changes closed, and it’s those nearly half a million people in Wales that will be most disappointed that he didn’t take today’s opportunity to u-turn on this damaging policy.”


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Catherine Hodgkinson
Catherine Hodgkinson
26 days ago

is It known what percentage of these 470,000 signatories are resident in Wales? I look upon the petition with great scepticism.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
26 days ago

Search for an article dated 23 December 2023 on this website and you will find the founder of 20s plenty Rod King giving a breakdown of the composition of the petition signatories. Mr King tries to taint/discredit the petition by highlighting the origin of a number of the signatories, even though these people may be Welsh living in other countries. This was quite ironic given the fact that Mr King is not even from Wales himself. He is a resident of Lymm, a ‘Warrington man’ as the Warrington Guardian describes him.

Penny Gallagher
Penny Gallagher
25 days ago

I live in Somerset but after a horrendous journey from Fishguard to Cardigan and then back to England when the 20 miles an hour limit had just been brought in I will not be coming back to Wales again until this stupid idea is got rid of, even though my brother and my best friend live there! Believe it or not people from outside Wales have to travel there as well so are entitled to an opinion, otherwise we will just vote with our feet!

Jeff
Jeff
25 days ago

Not having any issues with it. Nice drive around wales, no issues. I drive around every day with these limits, no issues. Drove today, mix of speeds, 70, 60, 50 and a short bit in 20.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

I think it is great as well. In fact I never go over 20 now.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
25 days ago

Firstly, the 20 mph default speed limit in Wales isn’t a blanket one as claimed by the devious Welsh Conservatives. Don’t forget , their English counterparts also used fake profiles on Facebook to campaign to scrap this law in Wales. And the petition did have signatories from outside Wales included in the figures, not saying the Welsh like the English cannot be led by their noses. See Brexit as a fine example of stupidity. Blind leading the blind. Also, If you used country roads from Cardigan to Fishguard could it be the lack of infrastructure, not just the 20 mph… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Y Cymro
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
25 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

The person who wrote the petition wasn’t fully literate, which more or less invalidates their petition. Little of it made any sense.

Last edited 25 days ago by Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
25 days ago

Glad you’re not coming back!

However, we know you’re exaggerating. Apart from in Abergwaun and Hwlffordd, there are only very short sections on the A40 and A48 from West Wales and the M4 at Pont Abraham. There are no 20mph sections on the M4. As far as 20mph restrictions on the road between Abergwaun and Aberteifi there are two short sections at Eglwyswrw.

How do I know this? There’s an official map: https://datamap.gov.wales/maps/roads-affected-by-changes-to-the-speed-limit-on-re/view#/

We may be Welsh, but were not gullible or stupid! You need to try a bit harder to insult our intelligence.

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
24 days ago

Did you drive back through Bristol and its chargeable Clean Air Zone?

I’d also advise you not to drive in many London suburbs, as they are 20mph too.

Jeff
Jeff
26 days ago

Conservative on any comments now.
“20mph grrr. grrrr. 20, grrrrr”

Conservative on party funding.
“Hesters money, Loverly jubbly, lets have another 5 million.”

Richard 1
Richard 1
26 days ago

The 20mph policy is sane and Drakeford has taken Wales into a world-leading position. I’m looking forward to a Senedd debate on the petition. On the basis of what I have seen in the last few months, I expect a lot of illogical posturing.

Jan Young
Jan Young
26 days ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Rubbish. I live in a city in Wales and the sheer profligate waste on signs no more than a few metres long is scandalous as well as stupid. Where are all the pedsestrians jumping off the sidewalks to be mown down?
Our petrol bill is up because of having to use low gears + many villages are without a bus service as a result. A total, typical Labour shambles!!!

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
25 days ago
Reply to  Jan Young

If you live in a city, then it might be an idea to leave the car at home and walk. Now there’s an idea, it’s what your legs are for.

We don’t have sidewalks in the UK, we have footways or footpaths for the exclusive use of pedestrians.

blc
blc
25 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Respectfully, I have to thoroughly disagree with you. I do live in a city – in Cardiff, actually, albeit on the outskirts – and I’m afraid it’ll be a cold day in hell before I walk to work: it’s an estimated two hour walk in either direction. The most direct route takes me down Rover Way, what I like to call Cardiff’s “scenic coastal road”: complete with rubbish dump, steelworks, sewage treatment facility, and waste incinerator. The smells are truly something to behold. There would also have to be drastic improvements in public transport before I consider that. Assuming everything… Read more »

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
24 days ago
Reply to  Jan Young

Many villages are without bus services as bus services are privatised and probably don’t make enough profit.
The private bus companies are using the 20mph thing as a convenient excuse for axing services.

Peter
Peter
25 days ago

Half a dozen ex Cardiff university graduates know better than than nearly half a million Welsh drivers. If only Drakeford had explained it more simply to the rest of us, we would now all agree with him. At least that’s what he thinks.

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