The First Minister has indicated that the Welsh Government is looking to set the national speed limit as 20mph for residential areas in Wales.
Following a question from David Melding AM, Mark Drakeford told the Assembly Chamber that “the Welsh Government believe that 20 mph should be the default speed limit for residential areas”, and that the Welsh government would be working with the Welsh Local Government Association to “identify the practical actions needed to implement 20 mph speed limits in residential areas across Wales”.
Mr Melding - the Welsh Conservative Assembly for South Wales Central - has been a long-standing campaigner on this issue, and has called for more consistency across Wales to promote the faster adoption of 20mph speed limits.
Research by Public Health Wales has suggested the health benefits of such a move would be significant in reducing emissions and accidents. Additionally, the University of West England analysed the impact of the roll-out of 20mph roll-outs for Bristol City Council, and it found that reductions of 2.7mph in average traffic speeds resulted in an estimated cost-saving of over £15 million per year from fatal, serious and slight injuries avoided.
Under proposals previously advocated by Mr Melding, it was argued that the Welsh Government should introduce a 20mph national speed limit for built-up areas in Wales, meaning that it would then be up to local councils to say which roads in their area should have a higher limit as opposed to the other way around
Speaking following First Minister’s questions, Mr Melding said:
“This is a change that could save lives and save money, whilst leading to an increase in the amount of people that feel safe to walk and cycle on our streets again.
“That is why we should lead this campaign nationally, so that there is uniformity and consistency across the country.
“With the exception of Cardiff, Wales was starting to fall behind on this issue in comparison to the rest of the UK so I am glad that the Welsh Government is seriously looking into it.
“Rather than saying where 20 is the limit, we should turn this around and let local councils say which roads in their area should have the higher limit. The changes would be sensible, with a presumption in favour of safety; that sounds like a win-win to me”.