Mark Drakeford issues firm ‘no’ to axing 20mph limit despite petition passing 260,000 signatures
More than 260,000 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 some like Wrexham Council putting forward only ten roads to be left out.
First Minister Mark Drakeford was asked in the Senedd yesterday if his government would rescind the 20mph default speed limit for Wales.
During First Minister’s Questions, Conservative MS Tom Giffard highlighted personal stories from his constituents, including an audiologist who criticised the impact of the speed limit on his work.
He said increased journey times, higher fuel consumption, and concerns over possible prosecution and licence points were among the main issues raised.
Gifford said: “People across the country won’t be able to receive the services that they rely on thanks to your government’s actions.
“Will you commit, as the 160,000 plus-strong petition asks you to and rescind your disastrous 20 mph scheme?”
Mr Drakeford stood firm on the Welsh Government’s stance and responded with a simple “no”.
Labour’s Alun Davies MS supported the First Minister, challenging the perception that the 20mph limit 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 the ability for local authorities ability to make adjustments based on their areas’ specific needs.
Mr Drakeford underscored the human aspect of the decision, noting the potential for reduced road fatalities if vehicles travel at the lower speed limit.
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 30mph.
“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 20mph that do happen when people travel at 30mph.
“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 super majority, 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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