Two 20mph protest convoys in North Wales aim to show 'how bad things will get' this summer

New group Denbighshire Says NO To Default 20mph held its first protest in Rhyl at the weekend
New group Denbighshire Says NO To Default 20mph held its first protest in Rhyl at the weekend -Credit:Denbighshire Says NO To Default 20mph

Two protest convoys are being organised in North Wales to highlight concerns over Wales’ 20mph speed limits. They’re being arranged as a motion goes before the Senedd calling for the Welsh Government to reverse the policy.

Opponents of the default speed limit are planning convoys in Denbighshire and Conwy, both starting at at 1.30pm on Saturday, April 27. The Denbighshire event has yet to confirm a route but Conwy protesters are aiming to set off from Llandudno West Shore car park.

From here, the route passes through Penrhyn Bay, Rhos on Sea and Colwyn Bay before heading to Llanddulas and Abergele. Organisers aim to show how congested the North Wales coast could become at the height of the tourism season. "We want to show how bad things could get," said Tina Lee, of online group Conwy County Residents Say No To Blanket 20 Limits.

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Some holiday let operators have already reported negative feedback from customers and there have been claims some visitors are switching to Scotland, Cornwall or the Lake District instead. Equally, some local people have reported little obvious effect on tourism so far. On social media, one man said: “Judging by the campervans around the coast I’d say that 20mph has not put anyone off coming to Wales.”

For some tourists, 20mph is part of the attraction. One said: “As someone who walks, cycles and uses public transport, I’m now much more likely to visit Wales and am actively planning to do so.”

In reality, it’s too early to assess the impact with bad weather playing a major part in determining early season tourism. There’s been a mixed response from holidaymakers, with a woman visiting from Stoke-on-Trent saying that 20mph roads were a “pain”.

Based in Llandudno, she spent 10 days travelling around the area and over to Anglesey. “In some areas they were a pain mainly because we went from 40mph straight down to 20mph,” she said. The North Wales Live Whatsapp community for top stories and breaking news is live now - here’s how to sign up

“Cars behind us were having to break sharply and flashing their lights and honking their horns some even overtook us. I remained at 20, not wanting to get a ticket. Our hotel receptionist told us he got two fines, so we weren’t willing to risk it. It will be interesting to find out if it does reduce accidents - although dropping from 40 to 20 could cause some rear-ending.”

Anti-20mph protesters aim to gather at Llandudno's West Shore for a convoy through Conwy
Anti-20mph protesters aim to gather at Llandudno's West Shore for a convoy through Conwy -Credit:Conwy County Residents Say No To Blanket 20 Limits

Antagonism remains greater among permanent residents who must grapple with the speed limit on a daily basis – especially now that more drivers are being fined. A poll published two weeks ago suggested opposition has not waned in the six months since the default speed limit was introduced. A survey by research firm Redfield and Wilton found 35% were “more opposed” versus 16% who were “more supportive”.

In light of this, the Welsh Conservatives have brought forward a motion to be debated in the Senedd on Wednesday, April 15. This calls on the Welsh Government to reverse the 20mph default speed limit and adopt a “targeted approach” instead – deploying the lower speed outside schools and hospitals rather than in all built-up areas.

The motion also calls for a review of the current strict criteria for new road building in Wales. These rules, introduced in February 2023, saw many major road-building projects in Wales scrapped, including the planned third Menai bridge.

During the debate, the Tories also aim to highlight the “North and South transport divide in Wales”, saying over £1bn has been allocated to the South Wales Metro and just £50m to the North Wales Metro. The party will call for more investment in public transport as a whole.

Shadow transport minister Natasha Asghar MS said: “Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay continue to push their anti-motorist agenda, with drivers being forced out of their vehicles through government policy. The people of Wales want to get on with their daily lives, yet Labour’s lack of investment in public transport, the road building ban and 20mph speed limits are preventing them from doing exactly this.”

The Welsh Government has said the 20mph speed limit will save lives, cut casualty rates and build stronger communities. Axing major road-building projects has also been welcomed by environmental campaigners, who have called the decision “brave” and “world-leading”.

There’s been local support too, with one person noting that 20mph speed limits have improved air quality. Another motorist said: “Most cities and towns in England have either already gone 20mph or are going, and I believe Scotland is thinking about it too.

"I don’t like 20mph zones but I’ve learnt to just go with it. If you want to go faster, go elsewhere.” Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

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