Welsh minister says Tories are waging ‘culture war’ against new 20mph limits | Wales

The Labour-led Welsh government said the introduction of a 20mph default speed limit for residential roads was one of the biggest changes in 25 years of devolution and accused the Conservatives of leading a “cultural war” against this measure.

Since Sunday, most roads in Wales that were 30mph have become 20mph, although councils have the discretion to impose exemptions.

Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, told the Guardian: “It’s a big problem. I think it’s one of the most important things we’ve done since devolution in 25 years when you think about the impact it’s going to have.

“There is not a single community in Wales that will not be affected by this. This is one of those policies that has had real impact. It’s something that everyone has heard of and most people have an opinion on.

Wales becomes the first country in the UK to introduce the 20mph limit, a measure which has been welcomed by road campaigners but is proving unpopular with many voters.

Waters said the administration expected opposition to grow as the law took effect.

“Three years ago we took a poll and got 80% support. A year ago we had 60% support. A poll released last week showed that figure had fallen to 35%. I’m not surprised that this number is dropping, given the misinformation that exists. We expect it to increase as people get used to it.

“We are working with the police and have tested the application of the law. The strong advice from behavior experts is to take an education-focused approach, not a punitive one. If a person is stopped by a road patrol doing less than 30 (but more than 20), they will receive advice and, depending on their speed, an awareness session may be offered.

“We work with the firefighters because they are the ones who get people out of cars. They will organize patrols to explain to people why they should not do it. If people do more than 30 we will take a tougher approach, with three points and a £100 fine.

“In testing we found that the average speed had dropped, not to 20 but to around 27. But the number of people doing more than 30 falls significantly and that’s the big win.”

Waters said he was not surprised that conservatives, including House Leader Penny Mordaunt, attacked the law.

“Conservatives are clearly looking for any culture war they can latch onto to distract from their record. They understood that there was opposition and this is a movement they can build on. It’s pretty dirty stuff.

A number of organizations signed the open letter supporting the move, including Brake, Action for Children, Cycling UK Cymru, Friends of the Earth Cymru, Natural Resources Wales, Play Wales, Sustrans Cymru and the UK Noise Association. The Welsh Local Government Association, which represents Wales’ 22 local authorities, has also signed it.

The letter says the new speed limit will make “a huge contribution to fairer streets and more liveable communities for everyone in Wales”. He continues: “This is not only an advantage in terms of road safety. It also supports broader health, climate and societal goals, such as helping vulnerable people get around, improving social connections, reducing air and noise pollution, etc.

The Conservatives focused on a report suggesting that reducing journey times would cost the Welsh economy £4.5 billion over 30 years.

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Senedd Conservatives, said: “While I agree that 20mph is reasonable outside of heavily pedestrianized areas, such as schools, hospitals and care homes, widespread deployment of the Labor Government’s 20 mph speed limit across Wales is simply ridiculous. .”


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