20mph: Magistrate stepped down from his role after 18 years over new default speed limit in Wales

  • ITV Wales' reporter Joanne Gallacher spoke to Nick Colbourne, who stepped down as a magistrate after 18 years.

Image Credit: PA Images

A magistrate has resigned from his role after 18 years over the introduction of 20mph speed limits saying "I'm not doing anybody's dirty work for them".

Nick Colbourne stepped down, declaring he would "not punish motorists" over a law he "deems unfair".

He said: "I think it's (the rollout of 20mph) a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

"We had other opportunities and there are other avenues. They've gone for the easiest one and that doesn't always work the best.

"If we were going to be serious about road safety there are other options.

Recently, Wales announced that the default speed limit is now 20mph and this has replaced many of the former 30mph zones.    Credit: ITV Wales

"When it was first handed for the police to prosecute we were seeing days where there was 100-110 cases as there had been such a backlog.

"They've got that down to 60 now but it's still a busy day."

He added: "I believe that most of us accepted that 30mph was a speed limit and it wasn't an instruction. So, if you were aware of what's going on around you and you saw children then you should adjust your speed accordingly."

When asked about his resignation and what he thinks about 20mph, Mr Coleman said: "I simply don't agree with it. It's the magistrates and the police officers who are facing the public on this."

Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said police do not want to be left "holding the baby" when it comes to enforcing the controversial default limit.

He had been asked at a Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel meeting if he was satisfied that he had sufficient enforcement resources.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said that a "strong evidence" base exists on "safety grounds" for the roll-out of the 20mph speed limits.

Dafydd Llywelyn said police did not want to be left "holding the baby" when it came to enforcing the default limit. Credit: LDRS

Mr Llywelyn said police carried out the majority of speed enforcement on the country’s roads via the Welsh Government-funded road safety group GoSafe.

He said: "It was estimated that a single road fatality had average costs in excess of £1 million associated with it, such as investigation work and foregone income of the deceased.

"If this policy reduces that figure, I’m 100% supportive of it."

A study has revealed that speed limits in residential areas UK-wide are broken most often and across all vehicle types, the highest percentage of speeding vehicles occurred on 20mph roads.

Experts from Claims.co.uk analysed data from the Department of Transport showing the percentage of vehicles caught speeding in 2021 and 2022.

The analysis found that many of the motorists had heard of a rule stating that speeding tickets won’t be applied if the driver is doing 10% + 2mph.

However, this is a misconception, it is not a rule, only a guideline due to discrepancies between the speedometer and the actual speed of a vehicle.

In 30mph zones, cars have been shown to still exceed the speed limit, with 50% being caught speeding in 2022.

  • "We've had people overtake us at 20mph and I think it's dangerous"

It has been less than two months since the rollout of the 20mph speed limit took place in Wales. It came into effect at midnight on 17 September 2023.

Since its introduction, there have been a series of Go-Slow protests and a petition calling for the policy to be rescinded has had over 467,000 signatures, so far.

The Welsh Government policy has received a mixed reaction from those who drive for a living and local businesses who have said it has affected their ability to meet customer demand.

A woman in Wrexham told ITV Wales: "Originally I thought it was a good idea, but I don't think it is saving lives, because we've had people overtake us at 20mph and I think it's dangerous."

  • ITV Wales' reporter Joanne Gallacher asked people in Wrexham what they think about 20mph so far

Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said this week that the "grace period" for people breaking the 20mph limit was coming to an end.

Enforcement is to begin in December.

The 20mph minister said: "Research showed there were three groups of drivers: one which would follow the 20mph law “come what may”. Credit: ITV Wales

The 20mph minister said that research had shown there were three groups of drivers: one which would follow the 20mph law 'come what may.'

Another that 'did not want to comply' and a middle group which would 'adjust their behaviour', if others did so.

It was this middle group that the Welsh Government particularly sought to influence.

The minister speaking before the Senedd's climate change committee last Thursday said: "We've given a grace period but we will now start to enforce.

"We'll do it in the way we enforce other speed limits – by exceptions."

The deputy minister also said there had been evidence of people being confused by the reference to the speed limit as a "blanket".

The Welsh Government continue to argue it is "default" not "blanket" but the Welsh Conservatives dispute this and continue to refer to it as a "blanket" speed limit.

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