Welsh minister who brought in 20mph speed limit to step down

Lee Waters
Lee Waters, the Welsh minister responsible for bringing in 20mph speed limits, is quitting - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Welsh Government minister responsible for introducing a blanket 20mph speed limit across the principality is stepping down.

Lee Waters is leaving his post as the Welsh Government’s transport minister in a fortnight, he said on Monday.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, he wrote: “When I leave my transport role in a fortnight, I’ll be deleting my account. Elon can shove it up his X. I now get a pile of malign comments for even the most innocuous posts.”

As the Welsh minister for climate change, Mr Waters also held the transport portfolio.

He was the public face of the Senedd’s most controversial policy – the blanket 20mph limit imposed on all residential streets across the principality.

Lee Waters was the public face of the Senedd's most controversial policy – the blanket 20mph limit
Lee Waters was the public face of the Senedd's most controversial policy – the blanket 20mph limit - Ceri Breeze/Alamy

Mr Waters narrowly survived a no-confidence motion tabled by the Welsh Conservatives in September, going on to cast doubt on his own 20mph policy in the same month.

That month, he conceded that there were a number of roads across Wales that should have remained at 30mph instead of being subject to his blanket speed limit.

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said Wales would “breathe a sigh of relief” that Mr Waters was stepping down.

He said: “The minister’s time in post has been characterised by one anti-motorist policy after another, slowing Wales down and doing serious damage to our economy. It’s time to scrap the road-building ban, scrap the 20mph speed limit, and implement a transport policy that gets Wales moving.”

The lower speed limit was supposed to help Wales meet climate change targets as well as reduce the number of road accidents, according to officials. Yet the policy has been widely viewed as a failure, triggering a backlash.

Arriva, the bus company, said it would have to revise all its north Wales timetables because of delays caused by the speed limit.

Research sponsored by the Welsh Trades Union Congress, published last year, called for buses to be exempt from the speed limit.

A report by the Centre for Cities think tank suggested that removing the 20mph speed limit could make bus journeys faster than cars, leading to a shift that would reduce the use of private vehicles.

Earlier this year, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, suggested motorists would not be fined for breaking the new limit if they were “genuinely confused”.