20mph: Rhondda MP calls for 'common sense' in the way speed limit applied

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Rhondda MP Chris Bryant says the Welsh Government review is needed because the way in which the rollout has been implemented in some areas is "just a bit bonkers". Credit: PA Images

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant says "common sense" is needed in the way in which 20mph is applied across Wales.

He has told ITV Wales he is supportive of a Welsh Government review and says it should happen so "that local authorities can make better, more sensible common sense decisions on particular roads in their areas".

Mr Bryant says it's needed because the way in which the rollout has been implemented in some areas is "just a bit bonkers".

The Welsh Government say that the reduction in mainly residential areas is designed to "save lives" and "make our communities safer for everyone, including motorists".

The default speed limit in Wales changed to 20mph on 17 September this replaced many of the former 30mph zones.

The law came into force in Wales on September 17 and has since proved controversial, with a poll for ITV Wales revealing that just 33% of people support the policy, while 61% are opposed to it.

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.

Speaking on BBC's Question Time, which broadcast from Llandudno last night, Mr Bryant said: "60% of the roads in Wales are 40mph or faster, exactly the same as it was before the law was changed."

But, he added: "There are some areas where it's just a bit, frankly, bonkers. You go from 20 to 30 back to 20.

"Lee Waters, the minister has already said, that the guidance is going to be reviewed.

"I think it should be so that local authorities can make better, more sensible common sense decisions on particular roads in their areas."

Mr Bryant's comments on 20mph are being questioned by Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS.

She said: “Chris Bryant is right, Labour’s barmy blanket 20mph scheme is completely bonkers, but be in no doubt, this is not Labour finally seeing sense on the issue.

"His call for a measly ‘review’ is out of fear of the voters, pure and simple.

 “Labour’s £33 million vanity project is set to hit the Welsh economy by up to £9 billion by their own admission. Only the Welsh Conservatives will actually scrap this policy and we’ll do it on day one.”

A petition calling for the Welsh Government to cancel the 20mph law has become by far the most signed in the history of the Welsh Parliament.

Its enforcement is proving controversial too with a magistrate resigning over it. Nick Colbourne stepped down, declaring he would "not punish motorists" over a law he "deems unfair".

He told ITV Wales: "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."

A "period of grace", for motorists to "get used to the change" is now over, with Mr Waters telling the Senedd's climate change committee last month, that enforcement had started.

He said: "The evidence is people are adapting their behaviour.

"What we don't want is to go in feet-first and create conflict. We want human relations to work out for people to adjust but we're reaching the stage where enforcement will begin."

He added: "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 issue of enforcement was also recently raised at a Dyfed-Powy Police and Crime Panel meeting where Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn was asked if he was satisfied that he had sufficient enforcement resources.

He said police did not want to be left "holding the baby" when it comes to enforcing the controversial default limit but Mr Llywelyn did acknowledge that a "strong evidence" base exists on "safety grounds" for the roll-out.

ITV Wales has asked the Welsh Government for a response to Rhondda MP Chris Bryant's calls for a review of 20mph. A spokesman said "It (20mph) has been thoroughly researched, voted on in the Senedd and received the backing from a majority of Senedd Members.

“We have always said it is down to Local Authorities to decide which roads should retain the 30-mph limit in consultation with their residents and based on guidance to help ensure consistency across Wales.”

How much could I be fined?

At the moment the minimum penalty for speeding is £100 and three points on your license.

If you accumulate 12 points on your licence you will be disqualified from driving for at least six months.

If a speed camera catches you exceeding the limit, you will be sent a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

If police stop you, they can give you a verbal warning, issue you with an FPN or order you to go to court.

You may be given the option to attend a speed awareness course depending on the speed you were caught travelling or if you have not been on one in the past three years.

Any money that is made through 20mph fines as the rollout continues won't end up in the Welsh Government's pockets.

All the money will go to the UK Treasury.

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