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Welsh Government defends introduction of 20mph speed limit despite eye-watering costs

By Tom Gibson | September 19, 2023

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The introduction has been labelled ‘absolutely insane’ by House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt

Welsh Government defends introduction of 20mph speed limit despite eye-watering costs

The rollout of the highly controversial 20mph national speed limit in Wales has caused more controversy as it was set live over the weekend.

The leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, said it was ‘absolutely insane, even by the standards of the Labour Welsh government’, while it seems the majority of Welsh residents are a little perplexed about why it’s being introduced with 140,000 signing a petition against the scheme – the largest petition in Welsh Government history.

If you want to sign the petition you can do so here.

The scheme is apparently costing around £32m to introduce although the Welsh Government are saying this will save the NHS around £90m per year as a result of fewer injuries.

All of the figures cited, whether it be the saving to the NHS or the eye-watering £4.5bn cost to the Welsh Government over a 30-year period due, seem to be a little bit ‘finger in the air’ and we don’t believe the economics are the biggest issue here if you can forgive the whopping initial outgoing.

More pressing seems to be the fact that this blanket reduction has been brought in with little to no evidence of it significantly improving safety. In fact, the only small research pieces we can substantiate seem to suggest a blanket reduction has no benefit at all.

Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, told Sky New: "It's not a political item in any sense, it is grounded in the evidence.

"The key positive is reduced speed means fewer accidents, and fewer lives being lost. The evidence I think is incontrovertible, that lower speed limits reduce accidents, reduce damage done to people.

"I have no doubt that the Tories will try to weaponise this sort of thing, it's just in their nature. I am very confident people in Wales will see through that."

Mr Drakeford announced that the government is expecting to see 40% fewer collisions resulting in six to 10 lives a year being saved while up to 2,000 will avoid injury.

"In 2019, Spain introduced a law very similar to what we have in Wales, they've had a 20% reduction in urban deaths that have followed, 34% reduction in cyclist fatalities."

Could the 20mph be introduced elsewhere in the UK?

Yes, it will likely happen in Scotland in 2025 when the government will lower the speed on residential roads to 20mph.

There is no nationwide rollout planned in England but some of the biggest cities, including Bristol and Manchester, have either already introduced a default limit of 20mph or have outlined plans to do so.

All roads within London's congestion charge zone also have a 20mph speed limit.

As ever, we’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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