‘Tourists won’t come to Wales if they fear a £100 fine’: Furious Welsh locals slam Mark Drakeford’s blanket 20mph speed limit and warn drivers could get distracted checking speedometers – while businessmen fear ULEZ-style plan will hit to their trade
- Some drivers believe it’s a money-making exercise by the Welsh Government
Furious Welsh locals have warned that drivers could get distracted by checking their speedometers instead of looking at the road ahead when Mark Drakeford’s blanket ULEZ-style 20mph speed limit comes into effect.
The new go-slow restrictions start on Sunday but drivers are already clogging up urban roads by ‘tootling along’ at under 20mph.
Businesses fear it will hit their trade as badly needed tourists will stay away from Wales for fear of an unwanted souvenir – three points on their license.
Some drivers believe it’s a money-making exercise by the Welsh Government whose first minister Mark Drakeford is under fire by introducing the new legislation.
A staggering £32.5m is being spent on the new signs, money which taxpayers say should have gone to the NHS.
But the Welsh Government insists that the 20mph speed limit will result in 40 per cent fewer collisions each year and up to 10 lives will be saved.
A glossy bi-lingual leaflet delivered to every home in Wales says: ‘Most journeys will be around one minute longer’.
Catering boss Jamie O’Leary, 42, said: ‘I don’t believe their figures – most journeys will be a lot longer.
‘You have to factor in that some drivers will go below the speed limit because they don’t want to get caught.
‘This will seriously affect supply chains coming into Wales. Delivery drivers aren’t going to want to come here if it’s going to add a third onto their journeys.
‘And tourists won’t come to Wales if they fear a £100 fine and three points on their licence. They will have to change their mindset every time they cross the Severn Bridge.
‘Most people in Wales think Mark Drakeford’s got this wrong – he doesn’t even drive a car these days.
‘It’s hard to drive at 20mph, the car doesn’t know whether to go up to third gear or labour in second.’
The Welsh Government leaflet advises drivers: ‘When you see streetlights assume the speed limit is 20mph unless you see signs that say otherwise.’
But Rob Williams, 54, of Treherbert, Rhondda, said: ‘That’s going to clog up every street, every morning and evening in every town and village in Wales.
‘It will lead to more crashes because drivers will be going along checking their speedos and not looking at the road in front of them.
‘People on the school run on Monday should be prepared for drivers running into the back of them.
‘If you ask me it’s a money-making exercise and they’re turning Wales into snails.’
The new law was blasted as ‘ridiculous’ by customers at the roadside West End Cafe in Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, a favourite with leather-clad bikers.
Barney John, of Neath, South Wales, said: ‘The A470 which connects North and South Wales is 60mph outside Newbridge-on-Wye then it goes down to 20mph for 500 yards. It’s ridiculous.
‘Part of their argument is emissions but my car runs more efficiently at 50mph than at 20.’
Biker Liz Treharne, 58, of Brynamman, Carmarthenshire, said: ‘I’ve got nothing against 20mph zones outside schools and old people’s homes, I don’t think anyone is arguing against that.
‘Drivers are getting ready for the new law by crawling along at 20mph. It’s going to be dreadful when everyone is doing it from Sunday.
‘The cost of the signs is over 30mph – they would have been better off giving it directly to the NHS.’
Retired bricklayer Eric Walters, 79, saw the new 20mph signs going up in his home village of Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, where the speed limit has been 30mph in the 68 years he’s lived there.
He said: ‘There are a lot of people unhappy about it but the Welsh Government isn’t going to go back on it.
‘If it saves lives then that’s fine but most drivers have ignored it when it was 30mph, we will have to wait and see what they do now it’s gone down to 20mph.’
On Friday, Mr Drakeford said drivers will be allowed to ‘get used’ to widespread 20mph limits from Sunday before enforcement begins.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I anticipate that there will be a number of weeks while people get used to a change of this sort. It is a major change. It will need time to bed in.
‘It is not a change that is being introduced in order to make life difficult for people and therefore the enforcement authorities will approach it in that way.’
Also on Friday morning, an interactive map on the Welsh Government’s website to show locations of the 20mph roads crashed amid high demand, but later came back online.
A study by Public Health Wales and Edinburgh Napier University published last year estimated that the speed limit reduction policy would spare the health service tens of millions of pounds a year, due to fewer deaths or injuries.
The Welsh Government confirmed the introduction will cost £32million, but said this would be outweighed by the reduced impact on the NHS and emergency services.
However, the Welsh Conservatives cited official documents warning that the policy could inflict a £9billion blow to the Welsh economy by increasing journey times.
Pointing to Spain as an example, which has implemented a similar policy, Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies warned that road deaths actually increased after the scheme was rolled out.
And the RAC told MailOnline today suggested it was pointless targeting main roads where there are fewer pedestrians.
Asked about the data on a potential reduction in road deaths, Mr Davies declared: ‘These claims are rubbish. When a similar policy was implemented in Spain, road fatalities went up.
‘Labour have admitted their blanket 20mph speed limits will cost the Welsh economy up to £9billion. This economic hit will result in less cash going towards our Welsh NHS.’