Posted: Tue 23rd Apr 2024

Wrexham Council set to decide on 20mph ‘adjustments’ which ‘begin from September’ for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Cabinet Secretary for Transport Ken Skates has today announced a ‘change of course’ on the Wales’ controversial 20mph policy.

The newly appointed cabinet secretary (pictured above this afternoon delivering the news) confirmed that the Welsh Government will be embarking on a “genuine programme of listening to people” over new 20mph zones.

This will include local residents being encouraged to contact Wrexham Council “to tell them where they think 20mph should be targeted”. Cllr David A Bithell, Deputy Leader and Lead member for transport welcomed the announcement and said “we are working closely with Welsh government on the review of roads in the Wrexham area.”

In the Senedd Mr Skates also confirmed that between now and July the Welsh Government will take on board feed back from bus drivers, emergency services, councillors, vulnerable people and businesses about the 20mph policy.

However 20mph limits will likely remain in place outside schools, hospitals and built up residential areas.

In a speech to the Senedd this afternoon Ken Skates said: “When I took up this role, I set my team three priorities: to listen, to work in partnership and to make change happen where it is needed On 20mph, we have started that listening.

“I have been clear in all my conversations that we will put communities at the heart of our thinking and that we will listen to the voices of all citizens.

“As I set out in the Senedd last week, there is growing consensus on safe speeds in communities that we can build from.

“The Welsh Government continues to believe that 20mph is the right speed limit in places such as near schools, hospitals, nurseries, community centres, play areas and in built-up residential areas. This is particularly the case when children and vulnerable people are in close contact with traffic.

“The principal objective of the policy is to enable people to feel safer in their communities through reducing collisions. What I am doing now is listening to what people want for the roads in their communities, and pressing ahead with refining the policy and getting the right speed on the right roads.

“To achieve this, we are initiating a number of actions. The first element of my approach is to have a genuine programme of listening to people.

“Between now and July we will listen to citizens; to bus drivers, emergency services, the police, to young people, vulnerable people, to businesses and to councillors in county, and town and community councils, in order to understand their perspectives on road safety in residential areas.

The introduction of the default speed limit has faced fierce criticism since its introduction in September.

One of the key issues appears to be have been in the different approaches taken by councils in introducing the limits.

Locally Wrexham Council chose to exempt just a handful of roads from the 20mph policy, which has left many questioning the decision to remove the 30mph limit from key routes such as Chester Road, Marford Hill and Mold Road.

Just 10 roads across Wrexham have been exempted from the 20mph speed limit and remain at 30mph.

This is compared to more than 150 in Swansea and 85 in Gwynedd.

This has led to the local authority facing criticism for not making as many exemptions as other towns and cities.

However it appears the onus will be on the local authority to take a lead on reverting some areas, with Mr Skates stating: “Councils are already looking at local roads where changes might be needed.

“As part of our listening programme, I will encourage people to get in touch with their local council to tell them where they think 20mph should be targeted.”

We have asked Wrexham Council how they will receive that feedback, and how people should get in touch formally.

Wrexham Council had been unhappy with the guidance given out by Welsh Government when the 20MPH law was rolled out, and Mr Skates has said “Welsh Government will revise its exceptions guidance, again by working in partnership with councils”.

A review is due to be published ‘as soon as possible’, which will then see the revised exceptions guidance “by the summer”.

From September highway authorities “will be able to commence the process of adjusting speed limits on relevant roads”.

Skates added, “Ultimately, the degree of change in each of our 22 local authority areas will not be determined by me and the Welsh Government, but by the public and councils as the highway authority for most residential roads”.

As we have reported previously, the changes will be yet another bountiful time for some – not all – print publications in Wales, with several hundred thousand pounds of public money spent to ‘inform’ the public via statutory notices in the back of newspapers which are seeing ongoing drops in circulations. This sum does not include the £800k+ paid promotion campaign advertising on Facebook / TV / etc by Welsh Government for the 20MPH rollout.

More: Six out of ten Newsquest newspapers in Wales would have been loss making last year without public notice revenue“It is not for local authorities to fund local or national print media”, says Senedd committee

The overall cost for the introduction of the 20MPH speed limit has been put at £32,000,000.

The costs across Wales for the rollback will come from Welsh Government rather than local budgets, with Skates stating, “We will not expect councils, who are facing difficult financial pressures, to cover the cost of adjusting routes back to 30mph.

Natasha Asghar MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, was unimpressed. “All of Labour’s talk of change on their flawed 20mph speed limit was sadly just a comms exercise which has consequently made people from all corners of Wales believe that their roads will be going back to 30mph.

“The bottom line is that after all of Labour’s talk about listening to the Welsh people, the default speed limit across Wales will remain 20mph. Nothing has changed to everyone inside and outside of Wales.

“Instead of making councils clean up the mess of this daft, divisive and destructive policy, it should be scrapped in its entirety, so common sense can prevail and 20mph remains where it is needed such as outside Schools, play areas, high streets, places of worship etc.”

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