POLITICIANS have been reacting to the announcement that residential areas throughout Wales will move to a 20mph speed limit in 2023.

On Tuesday, July 12, Senedd members voted 39 to 15 to approve the Welsh Government's bid to roll out the law on all residential roads.

The plans faced great opposition, particularly after it was first piloted in the Buckley area earlier this year.

But following the Senedd vote, Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said the order is now set to come into force on September 17, 2023.

Read more: 'Time to buy a bike' - Readers react as 20mph speed limit set to be introduced in Wales

The Government says it accepts that the transition period will mean leniency to those breaking the speed limit as they, in partnership with Welsh Police forces GoSafe scheme, seek to educate motorists.

Sam Rowlands MS for North Wales was one of those campaigning against the change. He says the introduction of 20mph on restricted roads is a 'backward step' for Wales and will have a dangerous impact.

He said: “We certainly support letting our councils put 20 mph speed limits outside schools, hospitals and other areas. But this blanket approach across urban roads in Wales, without recognising the vast differences in our communities, seems to me like a knee-jerk reaction.

“These rural villages and towns are going to be suffering because of this.

The Leader:

PIC: North Wales MS Sam Rowlands is opposed to the change in the speed limit.

“The Welsh Government's currently trialling this scheme across areas in Wales, including, Buckley in North Wales, where I met with residents and local representatives last week.

"They highlighted a number of issues. They believe they see a higher level of pollution, observed more accidents and more delays. They also feel that Government have not been listening to them and to their concerns through this process.

“They are concerned about the level of pollution, because what they observe is cars and drivers having to drive in a lower gear, churning out more fumes. They have seen more accidents, because they believe they have seen more drivers distracted with having to try and live within this new speed limit.

“In terms of the cost, we are talking about £33 million, I am sure that that could be better spent on employing more teachers, doctors and nurses here in Wales. Along with this, there is real concern that there is going to be a massive impact on business and the economy as well.

“A constituent wrote to me and said, and I quote, 'Drivers checking their speed constantly, not giving their full attention to road conditions, as well as impatient drivers trying to overtake will make the roads more dangerous, not less.'

“It is clear the Welsh Government has not properly consulted with those who have undergone this trial and it has caused real anger across many of our communities and it simply hasn't worked and won't work. It could have a dangerous impact and is a backwards step in how we go about our daily lives in Wales.”

The Leader:

PIC: Ken Skates believes a reduced limit can 'save lives'.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates believes the changes to 20mph should be made to suit the relevant locations - with local authorities expected to be able to have a hand in decision-making process.

He said: “In many communities, particularly where there are schools, the calls for 20mph limits have been very strong - and for good reason, as a reduced limit can save lives.

"My view is that local determination is best, based on local knowledge. I have been given assurances that local authorities will be able to determine if 30mph is more appropriate in certain areas."

Wrexham MS Lesley Griffiths is also in favour of the plans. She said: “By becoming the first nation in the UK to adopt 20mph speed limits, Wales is part of a growing global movement helping ensure our residential roads are safer.

“Evidence shows lower speeds result in fewer collisions and help save lives. I also hope this policy will bring about a shift in behaviour, ultimately encouraging more people to walk or cycle to places they would have previously driven to.

The Leader:

PIC: Lesley Griffiths MS is also in favour of the plans.

“Introducing 20mph speed limits in residential areas across Wales was a Welsh Labour manifesto commitment at last year’s Senedd Election so I am pleased the legislation has passed and Wales is once again leading the way.

“Moving forward, it's important the public are made fully aware of the new speed limit ahead of the changes coming into force next year and I will share any additional communication I receive with constituents.”

Deeside and Alyn MS Jack Sargeant added: "I support the change but it is important to remember this is a default speed limit. This means that as they can now, local high way authorities (local councils) have the power to vary the speed limit where they see fit. This could include stretches of road such as Liverpool Road in Buckley. The process for making these variations has been streamlined.

"It is important to me that this power remains locally as it gives your local councillors the power and the responsibility to make these variations. I made this clear to the Welsh Government on the floor of the Senedd yesterday.

The Leader:

PIC: Jack Sargeant MS has highlighted the power that local authority should have in the decision-making process.

"I hope this makes the position clear that this is not a blanket approach and instead simply a change to the default limit. The local authority will be empowered to make exemptions.

"Given the fact that the Minister confirmed local authorities will be able to make exceptions, I have written again to the Welsh Government to ask that this process be expediated in the case of Buckley."

Speaking in yesterday’s debate, the minister confirmed this when she said: “Not all restricted roads are deemed to be suitable to be reduced to 20 mph and an exceptions process developed can be used by highway authorities as guidance to assist them to identify which roads or stretches of road should remain at 30 mph.

"We are continuing to evolve these exceptions collaboratively as we move through the process by working with local authorities. We've refined the original proposal from the taskforce group for the first phase settlements, and we are now working with pilot areas to review their experience before the next iteration of the guidance in advance of the national roll-out.

"But, ultimately, local knowledge will be key, and local residents will have a say, of course, in how their street should be.”