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Transport secretary suggests changes to 20mph policy

18 Apr 2024 4 minute read
A vandalised 20mph sign – Image: Local Democracy Reporting Service

Chris HainesICNN Senedd reporter

Wales’ controversial 20mph policy should be targeted at schools, hospitals and nurseries, the new transport secretary suggested.

Ken Skates, who was appointed to the cabinet last month, told the Senedd there is widespread support for 20mph in areas where children and older people are at risk.

He stressed that ministers want to undertake a “national listening programme” on 20mph, engaging with businesses, communities and citizens across the country.

Mr Skates said: “There is, I believe, a growing consensus in this debate that we can at least build on that 20mph is right around our schools, hospitals, nurseries.”

‘Targeted’

The transport secretary, who succeeded Lee Waters in Vaughan Gething’s new look Welsh Government, told the chamber ministers must make sure 20mph zones are truly targeted.

He vowed: “Changes will be done with and for the communities we all serve – with the voice of citizens right at the heart of all we do.”

Mr Skates also signalled a potential change in direction on new roads, emphasising: “We will continue to build new roads.

“Whether that’s to address localised congestion, pinch points and poor air quality, to improve safety, or, for that matter, to adapt our road network to the kind of extreme weather that we’re now seeing here in Wales with alarming regularity – we will build new roads.”

Responding to a Conservative debate on Wales’ “not fit for purpose” policies, Mr Skates pledged to change the tone of debate on transport.

Natasha Asghar, the Tory shadow transport secretary, said 20mph has proved hugely unpopular, with a record near-half a million people signing a petition to rescind the policy.

‘Limited evidence’

Ms Asghar questioned Welsh Government claims that the policy will save the NHS £92m, saying there is very limited evidence as she called for a detailed breakdown.

Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru’s shadow transport secretary, said major change is required as she warned that transport is all too often expensive and difficult to access.

The party’s deputy leader told MSs the price of bus tickets has increased at the same time services are being cut, leaving communities isolated.

Ms Jewell warned that Wales lost out on billions through HS2 as she urged the Welsh Government to challenge UK ministers’ decision through the courts.

She said: “We have paid towards impoverishing ourselves. Neither Sunak nor Starmer sees the need to right that wrong. Westminster will always prioritise Westminster, never Wales.”

‘Modal shift’

Highlighting the climate emergency, John Griffiths stressed the importance of a modal shift from road use to public transport and active travel.

The Labour backbencher said five new railway stations in south east Wales will make a major contribution to easing congestion on the M4.

However, the Newport East MS emphasised that rail infrastructure is not devolved and Wales has only received a “paltry share of investment compared to the rest of the UK”.

Peter Fox, the Conservative MS for Monmouth, reiterated calls for a Chepstow bypass, saying the town is regularly gridlocked with an almost two-mile traffic queue.

He told the chamber: “We need to see the shelved road schemes back on the table to boost the economy and get our congested roads moving once again.”

Labour backbencher Carolyn Thomas argued Wales needs to prioritise investing in existing roads which are in a “dire” condition due to “ever-dwindling” budgets.

The North Wales MS said one council ran out of cash to patch potholes last month.

The Conservative motion also raised concerns about a north-south divide, with £50m allocated to the north Wales metro and more than £1bn to the south Wales metro.

But Mr Skates argued it is not comparing like with like because Wales has powers over lines in the south but rail infrastructure in the north remains the UK Government’s responsibility.

The Tory motion was defeated, 15-36, with Plaid Cymru’s amendment also falling, 10-41, before the motion as amended by ministers was agreed, 27-15 with nine abstensions.


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Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago

Absolutely pathetic, ‘national listening programme’, I thought we already had one before the 20 mph policy was introduced? Or was it a national listen to those who give us the correct answer programme? ‘There is, I believe, a growing consensus in this debate that we can at least build on that 20mph is right around our schools, hospitals, nurseries’. Does Mr Skates have the evidence that shows this, or is it a Welsh Labour belief? ‘Changes will be done with and for the communities we all serve-with the voice of citizens right at the heart of all we do’, Mr… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Funny that when a party misses a manifesto pledge they are attacked. The conservative party should be congratulating them on this and attacking them on missed pledges.

Probably because in the Conservative party they don’t know what pledges are or how to keep them.

20 is still no issue for me, would like to see a decent time frame to asses how it has gone.

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

The comedy act continues its like watching an episode of yes prime minister, I am sure they won’t be laughing come the senedd elections. Yes first minister. Best comedy about today trying to tell the electorate that this is better for everyone if you listen to the labour fantasy that has been constructed over the last 25 years in good old wales, Labour will keep you safe will raise us out of poverty, our standard of living will get better when we are independent. Yet they are shouting westminster should give us more give give give. When or if we… Read more »

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