Buckley: The 20mph pilot town where residents claim it led to more 'dangerous driving'

Locals in a town which was chosen as a trial for a blanket 20mph speed limit in Wales have argued it is an "unnecessary and costly" move.

In the lead up to the default speed limit being lowered across Wales next month, a number of communities in Wales were chosen to pilot the default speed limit between 2021 and 2022.

The pilot in Buckley saw a backlash from residents who argued it was leading to road rage incidents and an increase in pollution. ​‌

Some have even begun displaying red ribbons on their cars in protest of the plans, which come into force on 17 September. 

People against the new plans are displaying red ribbons on their cars Credit: Jan Read

The Welsh Government said the new law will help reduce the number of crashes and severe injuries from them, will improve health and wellbeing and will make streets safer.

However Minister Lee Waters admitted the government "got it wrong" introducing a blanket 20mph speed limit in Buckley in the way that they did.

He told deeside.com: "With Buckley, the decision was made not to have any of what we call ‘exceptions.’ So, the 20mph speed limit was applied to the whole area, rather than only some parts.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Now, I think that was a mistake. In a sense, it worked because we applied that approach, and that approach didn’t work.” ‌

Police have been out in some areas in Wales educating drivers ahead of the rollout

It comes as health experts spoke out in support of the new speed limit ​‌saying it will help protect children and younger people in particular. 

All roads in Wales where people live, work and play will become 20mph, with councils able to apply for exceptions for them to remain at 30mph.

This means "restricted roads" in built-up areas where there are lots of people, where they often have street lights on them, placed no more than 200 yards apart will have the new default speed limit.

Some residents say people began driving more dangerously during the pilot

‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​However, Buckley resident Martin Bailey told ITV News they witnessed "more dangerous driving" during the pilot in their area.

He said:​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ "We've seen overtakes happen in areas where they didn't need to previously - we've seen tailgating, it actually makes it harder for people to cross the road in certain places.

"People are not paying as much attention, they don't believe they need to have as much care and consequently they're a lot closer to other cars.

"The answer is a sensible compromise to keep the main 5-10% of arterial roads at 30mph and set the residential roads to 20mph.

"20mph does make sense - and the majority of people that live around here already drive at a sensible speed anyway, they drive to the conditions of the road, it's just the arterial road where we wouldn't expect children to be playing in the first place."

Health experts have said there is a convincing case for the new speed limit

The chief medical officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton told ITV News there was a convincing case for reducing the speed limit on all roads.

He said: "If you're struck by a car travelling at 30mph, your risk of dying is five times what it would be if that car was travelling at 20mph.

"What we've seen in other countries which have gone down this route is a 20% reduction in fatalities and that's a big gain and we're seeing the same implications in cities like Bristol and Edinburgh."