UK

Petition against 20mph speed limits hits Welsh record with 150,000 signatures

The 20mph speed limit change took effect on Sunday (PA)
The 20mph speed limit change took effect on Sunday (PA) The 20mph speed limit change took effect on Sunday (PA)

A petition opposing the new 20mph default speed limit in Wales has had a record-breaking number of signatures.

More than 150,000 people have signed the petition asking the Welsh Government to “rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law”.

It beats the previous record of 67,000 set for a Senedd petition about supermarkets being able to sell non-essential items during the Covid-19 lockdown.

As more than 10,000 people have signed the petition, it will be sent to the Senedd’s petitions committee to consider for debate by members of the Senedd.

On Sunday, Wales became the first country in the UK to drop the default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph for restricted roads.

The Welsh Conservatives have opposed the scheme and cited Welsh Government documents that estimate the cost to the Welsh economy of increased journey times from lower average vehicle speeds at anywhere between £2.7 billion and £8.9 billion.

They want to see more “targeted measures” rather than the introduction of the default speed limit with exemptions, and likened it to the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) in London.

Natasha Asghar, Welsh Conservative shadow transport minister, said: “For more than 150,000 people to sign a petition within such a short space of time highlights the extent of public outrage towards Labour’s disastrous policy.

“Labour and Plaid Cymru have refused to listen to public opinion and are continuing to wage their anti-worker, anti-road and anti-motorist agenda.”

The Welsh Government has said that cutting the speed limit would protect lives and save the NHS in Wales £92 million a year.

It is predicting the change would save up to 100 lives and 20,000 casualties in the first decade.

Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, said: “It’s simple – slower speeds save lives and help create safer communities for those that live there.

“Evidence shows that a vehicle travelling at 30mph will still be travelling at 24mph in the time it would take a car travelling 20mph to stop.

“We know decisions like this can be unpopular and we know that change is never easy, but what’s one minute on your journey time if it saves a life and reduces a lifetime of human misery for families affected.”

Not all 30mph roads will see their speed limits reduced as councils have the power to exempt certain roads from the scheme.

The project is costing around £33 million to implement and has proven controversial, with reports of the new 20mph signs being defaced in areas including Conwy, Gwynedd, Newport, Torfaen, Wrexham and Flintshire.