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Welsh Government urged to follow Westminster lead on 20mph guidance for councils

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

Emily Price

The Welsh Government has been urged to adopt the UK Government’s plans to involve local residents in council decisions to roll out 20mph speed limits.

Strengthened guidance for councils on 20mph are among the latest raft of measures to be announced on Westminster’s Plan for Drivers.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said “local consent” should be put first to ensure Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and 20mph speed limits have the support of those living in the area.

An LTN is a residential area where access to motorised traffic is restricted using barriers or bollards.

On Sunday (March 17) the Department for Transport published new draft statutory guidance for councils set to be implemented this summer.

It set out that they must gain buy-in from local people, businesses and emergency services when considering implementing new road schemes.

This could involve in-person events, online engagement, and leaflet drops to involve the whole community in the process.

It means that authorities must consider whether a new scheme has local support before it is implemented.

‘Mismanaged’

Under powers from the Traffic Management Act, the UK Government could ultimately take control of an authority’s roads if they are deemed to be widely mismanaged.

The plan will take place in England only because transport in Wales is devolved.

The Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies has urged the Welsh Government should to roll out a similar initiative.

He said: “The Labour Welsh Government’s default 20mph speed limit is disastrous – it’s causing bus routes to be scrapped, hammering the economy by up to £9 billion a year and making congestion even worse.

“I welcome the Department for Transport’s move to ensure local people have their voices heard. However, given transport is devolved – meaning it’s the full responsibility of the Labour Welsh Government – the Department for Transport’s latest plan is taking place in England only.

“But the Labour Welsh Government needs to adopt this initiative and allow local people to decide whether they want 20mph default speed limits in their area.

“Ultimately, it’s local people that know what is best for their local community, not Labour Welsh Government ministers.”

The Welsh Tories have heavily opposed the 20mph default limit promising to scrap it if they were ever in power in Wales.

Mr Davies added: “A 20mph speed limit outside schools, hospitals and other appropriate area is something I support, but the Labour Welsh Government’s current approach is divisive and wrong.”

Guidance

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

The Welsh Government provided guidance for councils to follow when deciding which routes should remain at 30mph.

Some local authorities have been criticised for not consulting properly on which roads should “opt out” of the default speed limit.

This is thought to be because department resources are overstretched.

A review will be undertaken this year to look at the current guidance and decide whether the flexibility is enough for Welsh councils.

The Welsh Government says the new default speed limit will save lives and save the NHS money.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We want local people to have their voices heard, and any traffic schemes to have the consent of those they impact.

“Well thought out schemes, like 20mph limits outside schools, can make our roads safer, but we are raising the bar to help ensure all traffic schemes work for everyone in the community.

“We’re on the side of drivers, and these latest measures show we’re getting on with delivering what we promised in our Plan for Drivers – making their lives better, fairer and cheaper, and helping people travel in the way that works best for them.”

A record breaking petition calling for the new road regulation to be scrapped was handed in to the Senedd last week after amassing almost half a million signatures.

The Senedd petitions committee is expected to recommend it for debate.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The default 20mph speed limit was introduced in Wales to improve safety for all road users and to save lives.

“In their role as the local highway authority, local authorities are able to make changes to speed limits at any time.

“We have appointed a team of experts to review how the guidance has been applied and to suggest ways we could help highway authorities make changes.”


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Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
22 days ago

OH no that will not do at all. It was in the manifesto that’s all that was needed.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
22 days ago

The Welsh government still cannot be honest to the population. ‘The default 20 mph speed limit was introduced in Wales to improve safety for all road users and to save lives.’ That was not main reason at the start of the whole 20 mph process. The implied environmental benefits of driving slower was the initial reason. This changed however after people started asking if they had an electric car could they still drive at the previous speed limits.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
22 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

It’s not a default 20mph speed limit. Stop misleading people. First and foremost it only applies on Local Authority roads and not Welsh Government ones. Second, and most importantly, All local authorities in Wales were given the powers to identify which roads should have their speed limits reduced and which ones should be exempted. If any Local authority chose not to use those powers then it is responsibility of that Council’s leadership and Council officers within the relevant department. You can’t on the one hand complain about the Welsh Government micromanaging and then in the next breath claim that it… Read more »

TomTom82
TomTom82
22 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

You’re right it’s not default 20mph. It just applies to 97% of roads that used to be 30mph. The policy was put forward originally by a tory(How’s that male you feel?) Also, the only reason it was implemented is because it was easy to do. It is an election year after all. Can’t have the proles asking questions about things like Betsi Cadwaladr cover ups can we?

Simon Hughes
Simon Hughes
20 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

It is not for the WG of the day to act like a dictatorship! Before you start I am a Labour member and a proud welsh man. However this lot do not represent the working class in Wales. They have brought in this legislation on the back of dubious evidence. To say the roads will be safer at 20mph speed means that they infer adherence to the speed limit? And therein lies the crux of the matter. They have not produced evidence to highlight the need to reduce the speed limit on these roads. I have not seen aware evidence… Read more »

Llyn
Llyn
22 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

The suggestion that 20ph limit was at first introduced for environmental reasons is not true. However, if you have any evidence to back up your claim please provide it.

Karl
Karl
21 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Mine was reduced because of nitrogen dioxide levels. The Councillor was shocked when the residents filled him in about the deaths, speeds up to 70mph and regular drink down pavements. So clearly rct council took no interest in human life when making it 20

Richard 1
Richard 1
22 days ago

Welsh government should hold its nerve. Fuel saving is a red herring. The real issue is safety and accessibility for other road users. The tories flipflopped on the limit when they spotted an opportunity to differentiate themselves from Labour in Cymru. Damned irresponsible of them. And divisive.

Last edited 22 days ago by Richard 1
TomTom82
TomTom82
22 days ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Accessibility to other road users? What does that mean exactly? It sounds like waffle to me. There is no practical safety benefits. Deaths from driving have been declining for years(in built up areas) most deaths occur on roads where the limit is 40 or above. And no, that is not an invitation to do something moronic.

Richard 1
Richard 1
22 days ago
Reply to  TomTom82

“accessibility for other road users” means cyclists, pedestrians and children. Fairly obvious. It’s much easier and safer to cross the road if vehicles are OBEYING THE LAW

Vance Grffiths
Vance Grffiths
21 days ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Why are children on the road? I thought the pavement was a more appropriate place.. As far as cyclists go no pay no say as far as I’m concerned. During
my commute of 15 non motorway miles I’ve yet to see more than seven people walking, all on a pavement and the very very occasional cyclist. Where is this change the clowns in the ssenedd promised.? Yet the 20mph still exists
Can enyone provide the data to show the costs of this would not be better spent on the NHS. Probably not.

Jeff
Jeff
22 days ago
Reply to  TomTom82

It has come down over the years. The deaths are sort of static at the mo and the injuries still high, and static for built up 30’s. Doesn’t mean we don’t stop trying. Cars have had a lot done to add to safety, road engineering and so on. You don’t reach a point that looks good on a spread sheet and hang up your boots thinking the job is done. You keep trying.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
22 days ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Totally agree maby many people would use the opportunity to just be difficult because they don’t like the sensible 20 mph rule. The Welsh Government knows best.

Jeff
Jeff
22 days ago

This is the same UK government that is actually waging a war on the motorist. Insurance costs, servicing, breakdown, fuel, tyres exhausts etc. all eye watering expensive but Tory party are “20 mph, grrr, 20, grrrrr” There are 20 zones all over the UK but this government lied about so many things at its conference, 15 min cities, meat tax and so on, they are looking for wedge issues because they are looking to get royally stuffed at the polls. I was on the fence, but there are big issues if this is gamed not least no single party taking… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
22 days ago

The majority of the population don’t want the 20 mph. We are supposed to be a democracy and the Welsh Government voted in to serve the people NOT impose their will on the people.
Serve the Welsh people and remove the 20 mph everywhere!!!

NowThen
NowThen
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

I’d be grateful if you can you provide a link to support your statement that the majority of the population do not want it. Thanks.

Stuart
Stuart
21 days ago
Reply to  NowThen

Nearly 1/2 million people out of 3 million population who signed a petition. The biggest ever. Thats fairly decisive. Prorater that up to UK that’s equivalent to 10 million. I’m sure Westminster would listen and review if any petition got even half that number

Jeff
Jeff
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

OK, party X stand on a manifesto and enact that but it is thrown out because of a shonky petition. What party can you now trust if a petition that can be gamed is used to override voters that are verified to a higher standard. Doesn’t matter what it is about (20, grrrrr(calm down ARTD)).

Stuart
Stuart
21 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

I don’t think hardly anyone voted for Labour because of the 20 mph in their manifesto. If you read that part of their manifesto it’s not even clear that they intended to impose the 20 mph blanket.

Jeff
Jeff
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

But it was there so should not be a surprise. I tend to read these things.

No 9 on their “we will ” list.

“Make 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas and ban pavement parking wherever possible.”

From BBC 2021
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-56676066

NowThen
NowThen
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

Although record breaking, is it a majority as you state? Voting in Wales is around 47% turnout in elections so around 1.2million people care enough about issues either way to try to do something about it. Going by those figures alone doesn’t that leave a majority that didn’t sign the petition, because they agree with the new rule? I’m not on either side, but from what I’ve seen in my own village it’s much better for pedestrians, especially children, since the new rule was introduced. If the councils use their powers to change some roads back to 30mph where that… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
21 days ago
Reply to  NowThen

In my village its much worse with a long snake of slow moving constant traffic preventing you from crossing the road for ages

Stuart
Stuart
21 days ago
Reply to  NowThen

Arguing Statistics won’t work. Compare the petition alongside all other petitions.

NowThen
NowThen
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

Yes, like the one to revoke article 50 and remain in the EU (6.1 million signatories). I won’t spoil the surprise but I think that one failed.

Richard 1
Richard 1
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

That IS arguing statistics!

WilliamsG
WilliamsG
21 days ago

Scrap the 20mph default (labour’s words) limit. Spend the money saved where it is needed and allow the police the time to do something a lot more useful. The majority of people is Wales don’t want it

Richard 1
Richard 1
21 days ago
Reply to  WilliamsG

Where’s the evidence about public opinion on this? 20mph is good policy and will eventually be adhered to in all built-up areas. The tories only flipflopped once they saw how big that semiliterate petition was becoming. Cynical politically-motivated posturing.

NowThen
NowThen
21 days ago
Reply to  WilliamsG

If people are interested, the petition map shows that none of the areas in Wales had more than 21% of their constituents signing the petition, and those higher numbers were in the more built areas with numbers as low as 7% in some rural areas. Although significant, it does not reflect a majority. It’s worth noting around 26,000 signatures came from outside of Wales.

Why vote
Why vote
21 days ago

Manifestos are a wishlist, like asking santa for a the best thing ever for Christmas. Labour’s 20mph is sure to be a winner at the next election every seat in the senedd will have a labour bum on it and labour will rule forever and ever. Hopefully labour assembly members ( not government ministers as Westminster won’t allow it ) will keep on making these laws and control the population as they see fit tell us when to go out and go to bed what to eat, how much tax to pay and what fines to pay. all for our… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago

We could also do as they are doing in England by giving the farmers less money, and also restrict free school meals for primary schools, as in England, we could also charge for NHS prescriptions, why stop there, we could also encourage our councils to go bust, just like in England. Oh what a great place it is, far better than here.

Stuart
Stuart
21 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Wales are failing on the only 2 devolved powers of Education and NHS. Education in Wales is bottom of the home nations league table and has been for many years and NHS is far worse than England. If Wales put money into those areas instead of their pet vanity projects it would be a better place to live. Instead they give very expensive free prescriptions and then claim Westminster doesn’t give enough money. But Wales gets more money per capita than England.

Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago
Reply to  Stuart

We are funded on a percentage of what England gets, we have different needs, eg older population, generally poorer health, we need a “needs based funding ” system, not what England needs, type of funding. All the devolved countries based on cost effectiveness, offer free prescriptions, England being the odd one out.

Karl
Karl
21 days ago

That will great a divide. Our Councillor had 2 meetings in 2 parts of his area. One part called for my road to be 30,but not their own of course. Asking doesn’t always work. Why the hell should I suffer the will if those with low driving ability. Because their tantrums bore me

Grievous
Grievous
21 days ago

Once again little England’s Tory ministers interfering in Welsh affairs ,Mark Harper needs to concern himself with little England matters and not interfere in the affairs of devolved Governments.

Last edited 21 days ago by Grievous
Marc
Marc
21 days ago

The only reason this 20mph speed limit was introduced was so they could fine motorists more the motorist has always been the easy cash cow target. It has nothing to do with saving lives or the CO2 and the environment as you are producing more CO2 being stuck in 2nd gear reving the t**s off the car. It also gives the government more revenue at the petrol pump because you use more fuel why do you think they introduced traffic lights YES so you are sitting there wasting more fuel that they get vat on. Same applies to speed bumps.… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Marc

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