LOCAL authorities should be given 'discretion' to retain the former speed limits of arterial roads despite new 20mph guidelines, a councillor has said.

Many of Flintshire's roads changed from 30mph to 20mph over the weekend, as part of a national rollout of the scheme.

County councillors in Buckley have been working with Flintshire Council highways officers for the past 18 months during the 20mph pilot scheme and agree that the new lower limit is acceptable - "on estate roads, outside schools, and health centres, but not on main roads or key arterial routes, here they should remain at 30."

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Cllr Mike Peers said that after making representations and putting forward residents’ concerns, he and fellow ward members Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, Cllr Carol Ellis and Cllr Richard Jones have managed to get some of these 20mph roads changed back to 30 or higher under the set criteria.

But what remains a concern to them is the A549 main road from Wylfa in Mold to Forest Walk in Buckley, a three-mile stretch of road, has defaulted to 20mph despite what Cllr Peers says is a clear case for an exception.

He told the Leader First Minister Mark Drakeford had stated in the Senedd in 2019 that "local authorities would need discretion to maintain a 30mph limit on key arterial roads” - but that the "discretion" had not materialised.

"At present it would appear that Flintshire Council has not received this discretion," he explained, "and the criteria set by Welsh Government falls short in these situations.

"Had the county council received the discretion that the First Minister said they would need, then this road could have remained at 30mph”.

Cllr Peers said during the 20mph pilot in the town, the road had remained at 30 and there had "not been one accident or fatality."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Our exceptions guidance states that highway authorities continue to have the flexibility to set local speed limits that are right for individual roads, reflecting local needs and considerations. 

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"The guidance also states that where their decision deviates from the exceptions guidance, highway authorities should have a clear and reasoned case."

Katie Wilby, chief officer for streetscene and transport, said: “When considering the suitability of all speed limits, highway authorities are duty bound to consider all roads impartially, both during the assessment process and the statutory consultation procedure.

“It is correct that highway authorities have the powers to implement speed limit changes on their local road network, however, authorities do not have the jurisdiction to disregard prescribed criteria. 

"Therefore, in the case of exceptions, only those roads that meet the specified Welsh Government exceptions criteria can progress to 30mph.”