New 20mph speed limits have come into force across residential streets in Wales - but there is already confusion in some areas with new signs appearing to be incomplete.
The Welsh Labour government reduced speed limits from 30mph in built-up areas in a bid to save lives and cut costs for the NHS. But not everyone is in support of the plan, with many concerned over the cost longer journeys will bring on the economy.
It comes as Transport for London announced plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit on 65 kilometres of roads in Greenwich, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Southwark, Wandsworth, Merton, Bromley and Lambeth over the last four months of the year.
Last month, motorists in the capital saw the expansion of London mayor Sadiq Khan’s ultra-low emisson zone, with high-polluting vehicles drivers now paying a £12.50 daily fee in the city’s outer boroughs. Protests took place outside No 10 and some traffic cameras were smashed or vandalised with spray paint.
The SNP in Scotland and Devon and Cornwall council are also considering the move toward more 20mph zones.
But the controversial change in Wales is causing confusion just days in with old 30mph speed limits removed from signs in Swansea.
This was the case in Delhi Street in St Thomas in Swansea, where the old 30mph lettering was painted over on two road signs. Ant Norman, from Swansea, told The Independent: “This just shows the incompetence and confusion.”
Mr Norman called the new rules, which will see over 30,000 road signs altered at a cost of £32million, “utterly and totally confusing”.
“Reducing speed does nothing,” he said. “I have driven all over the world and not once had an accident. However in July this year, I had one and was actually doing 20mph and the other party completely misjudged at a junction and we collided.”
A spokesperson for Swansea Council confirmed that speed limit signs that conflict with the new 20mph limit were being painted over ahead of their removal.
“Following the introduction of the new lower speed limit in Wales, we have a number of signs which conflict with the new limit. We are now covering over these existing signs, ahead of their removal in the following weeks,” the council said.
In some parts of the country, members of the public have also created confusion by removing stickers from road signs. In Wrexham, WalesOnline reported how roads had been left with signs showing both 20mph and 30mph speed limits simultaneously.
Simon Baynes, Conservative MP for Clwyd South, shared a picture showing a road in Bangor-on-Dee with both 20mph and 30mph speed limit signs standing opposite each other.
“Welcome to Welsh Labour’s chaotic 20mph policy in Bangor-on-Dee in Clwyd South, Wrexham,” he said.
— Simon Baynes MP (@baynes_simon) September 13, 2023
A spokesperson for Wrexham council said it had placed temporary ‘3’ stickers over the ‘2’ ahead of the change on Sunday - but “unfortunately, we are aware that in a handful of instances, members of the public have removed the stickers which could well be the case here”.
Meanwhile, Richie Nolan, from Cardiff, called the new rules a “stupid idea”. “Road rage and tailgating will increase,” he said. He also claimed the new rules mean carers trying to visit clients will be forced to cut down on the amount of time they spend giving care.
Politicians have defended the new regulations. Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, told the PA news agency: “Very much the intention initially is to educate and to speak to people and not to fine but over 30mph we will be fining and issuing points.”
First minister Mark Drakeford claims the new 20mph limit will add an average of just 63 seconds to every journey. “Most delay doesn’t occur because of speed, it could be because of delays at junctions and traffic lights,” he said.
The Labour-run Welsh government has claimed its £33million clampdown will save lives and cut NHS costs by £92million a year. But Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, said the rollout of the 20mph speed limit across Wales is “simply ludicrous”.
An official petition titled “We want the Welsh Government to rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law” has been signed by almost 300,000 people.