Wales revolts against 20mph speed limit: Furious locals destroy new road signs as £33m clampdown comes into force today with drivers scared to hit the roads and crawling along at 19mph
Welsh people have started fighting back against the country’s new 20mph speed limit by painting over newly-erected road signs for the newly-restricted zones.
Furious locals spray painted over signs for the 20mph limit after Wales’s new rules came into force today as lorry drivers also vowed to show their opposition by driving at 19mph.
The clampdown has seen Wales become the first country in the UK to reduce speed limits down from 30mph in built-up residential areas with a view to saving lives and cutting costs for the NHS.
The Conservatives have, however, called the Labour-run Welsh government’s ULEZ-style clampdown ‘ludicrious’ as they accused the devolved authority of having an ‘anti-worker, anti-road and anti-motorist agenda’.
Now, motorists have reported feeling scared to drive on Welsh roads amid the threat of penalties and widespread confusion about the new rules.
Welsh drivers have painted over newly-erected road signs marking Wales’s new 20mph speed limit
Motorists have started fighting back against the speed restrictions by spraying over road signs
An estimated 7,700 miles of urban and village roads across Wales changed from 30mph to 20mph at midnight, in a shift that will see over 30,000 road signs altered at a cost of £32million.
Photos show furious drivers have now stared fighting back against the scheme by vandalising the newly-erected speed limit signs themselves.
Drivers taking to the road were also left confused as many local authorities failed to put up the new signs ahead of the 20mph limit coming into force.
Some drivers said they were ‘scared’ to go out in case of being trapped by police, static cameras and mobile speed vans, with one elderly couple having cancelled their trip to Aberystwyth to visit family due to their fear of getting a £100 fine.
Ministers have said motorists caught driving over the 20mph limit, but under speeds of 20mph, will initially be given advice by police instead of being given tickets.
Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, told the PA news agency: ‘Very much the intention initially is to educate and to speak to people and not to fine but over 30mph we will be fining and issuing points.’
Newly-erected signs also caused confusion for drivers on Welsh roads, as motorists were seen sticking to the new 20mph limit while in 50mph zones.
At Llandudno a 40mph restriction remained on a winding section of road where there have been a number of smashes – even as the limit was cut to 20mph on long clear stretches.
The Conservatives have called the Labour-run Welsh government’s ULEZ-style clampdown ‘ludicrious’
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford (pictured) has claimed the new speed limits will save £92million a year for the NHS
The RAC on Friday warned drivers not to rely on the satnavs for information about the new speed limits and instead to look for signs on the road.
A group of Welsh lorry drivers also apologised in advance as they vowed to trundle along at 19mph in opposition to the plans.
The Labour-run Welsh government instead claims its £33million clampdown will save lives and cut NHS costs by £92million a year.
The backlash comes after Welsh Conservatives opposed the Labour-run Welsh government’s plans having previously tabled a motion in the Senedd to halt the scheme.
Critics have argued the new speed limits could bring Wales to a ‘standstill,’ hurt business, and hit the country’s tourism industry.
Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, said: ‘Whilst I agree that 20mph is sensible outside heavily pedestrianised areas, such as schools, hospitals and care homes, the Labour Government’s blanket 20mph speed limit rollout across Wales is simply ludicrous.’
Natasha Asghar, the Welsh Conservative shadow transport minister, added: ‘Labour and Plaid Cymru have refused to listen to public opinion and are continuing to wage their anti-worker, anti-road and anti-motorist agenda.’
The Welsh Tories cited Welsh Government documents estimating the cost to the Welsh economy of increased journey times from lower average vehicle speeds at anywhere between £2.7 billion and £8.9 billion.
Andrew RT Davies (pictured), the leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, called the new speed limits ‘ludicrious’
Newly-erected signs marking the start of a 20mph zone in Cardiff
First Minister Mark Drakeford claims the new 20mph limit will add an average of just 63 seconds to every journey.
‘Most delay doesn’t occur because of speed, it could be because of delays at junctions and traffic lights,’ he said.
‘We’ve all been overtaken by an idiot only to find them one space in front of us at the lights.
Protest groups are instead asking drivers to put Drakeford to the test by recording how much longer it takes to get to and from their workplace – and how much more fuel they are using.
An official petition titled ‘We want the Welsh Government to rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law has been signed by 13,840 people.
Security worker Phillip Eynon, 58, said: ‘It’s crazy – no one in Wales voted for this. I work unsociable hours sometimes finishing at 4am when there’s no one on the road.
‘From now on I’m going to be crawling along at 20mph, using more fuel and getting home up to 15 minutes later after a night shift. Where’s the sense in that?’ he added.
Campaign groups including Brake, Cardiff Cycling Campaign, We Are Cycling UK Cymru, Friends Of The Earth Cymru, Sustrans and Living Streets Cymru have also backed the plans.
In a joint letter, the groups wrote: ‘It’s not just a road safety benefit. It also supports broader health, climate and societal goals such as helping the vulnerable to get about, improving social connection, reducing air and noise pollution, and more.’