Drakeford says ‘no’ to axing new 20mph speed limit in Wales as online petition passes 200,000
More than 200,000 people have signed what is being hailed as the largest Senedd petition in history, expressing their opposition to the new 20mph speed limit in Wales.
The new law, which has seen the majority of 30mph roads change to 20mph, has been in place across Wales for just three days.
Exemptions from the law have been left to local authorities, with just 10 put forward by Wrexham Council.
During First Minister’s Questions in the Welsh Parliament Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford was asked if his government will rescind the 20mph default speed limit for Wales.
Conseravtive MS Tom Giffard highlighted personal stories from his constituents, Giffard shared the tale of an audiologist who lamented the impact of the speed limit on his work, describing increased journey times, higher fuel consumption, and concerns over possible prosecution and license points.
Gifford said: “People across the country won’t be able to receive the services that they rely on thanks to your Government’s actions. So, will you commit, as the 160,000 plus-strong petition asks you to and rescind your disastrous 20 mph scheme?”
Drakeford stood firm on the Welsh Government’s stance, he simply replied, “no”.
Labour’s Alun Davies MS supported the First Minister, challenging the perception that this is a blanket ban and accusing the opposition of distorting the narrative.
He emphasised the difference between a default speed limit and an outright ban, and local authorities’ autonomy to adjust based on their areas’ specific needs.
Drakeford underscored the human aspect of the decision, noting the potential for reduced road fatalities if vehicles travel at the lower speed limit. Citing an emotional BBC report about a man who lost his brother in a car accident, he said:
“I read a story that the BBC had reported of a man reflecting on the death of his brother in a car accident some years earlier, and how that death might have been prevented had the speed of the vehicle been travelling at 20 rather than 30 mph.”
“And what that reminded me of was the many conversations that I remember having in the lead-up to the organ donation Bill here on the floor of the Senedd, where I met the families of so many people who had lost their lives in road traffic accidents, and those families had gone on to agree for organs to be donated.”
“But the impact of the loss of that individual was as alive in the lives of those people, sometimes 20 years and more after the accident had happened, as it was on the day itself, and behind this decision and this course of action lie those lives.”
“It is the lives of people who will be saved. It is the lives of people who would otherwise be caught up in the road traffic accidents, which will not happen when people are travelling at 20 mph that do happen when people travel at 30 mph.”
“That is the purpose of it. That is why this Government will stick fast to the decision that we have made, endorsed twice on the floor of the Senedd, not by a simple majority, but by a supermajority, because of the human stories that lie behind the decision we have made and will go on implementing here in Wales.”
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