A LAST-minute bid to stop the rollout of the controversial new 20mph speed limit for residential roads in Wales has failed.

The Welsh Conservatives tabled a motion in the Senedd calling for the scheme, which is due to begin on Sunday, to be halted.

The Welsh Government has said that cutting the speed from 30mph to 20mph on residential roads would protect lives and save the NHS in Wales £92 million a year.

Most roads in Wales that are currently 30mph will become 20mph although councils have discretion to impose exemptions.

There have been reports of the new signs being defaced in areas including Conwy, Gwynedd, Newport, Torfaen, Wrexham and Flintshire.

The Conservatives cited Welsh Government documents that estimate 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.

Natasha Asghar, proposing the motion for the Welsh Conservatives, said many people in Wales were opposed to the scheme and instead called for “targeted measures”.

“During the summer, we’ve seen motorists tie red ribbons to their cars in protest, and people defacing 20mph road signs – similar to the scenes that we’ve seen in London with Sadiq Khan’s ultra-low emission zone expansion,” she told Plenary.

“Whilst I’m not condoning in any way, shape or form the defacements, this clearly shows the intense level of dissatisfaction and anger towards this policy.

“Are 20mph limits just the tip of the iceberg, and should residents expect to see this Government ramp up its anti-driver agenda going forward?

“I really hope to see you all represent your constituents and their legitimate views by voting with the Conservative motion going forward.

“The Welsh Government really needs to scrap this anti-driver mentality and instead ensure Wales has an adequate road network for the future, not introduce your own version of Ulez, going forward.”

Plaid Cymru tabled an amendment to the motion which instead placed an obligation on the Welsh Government to regularly review the scheme and consider further exemptions to maintain 30mph limits on specific roads.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, leader of Plaid, criticised the “immaturity” of the Conservatives, saying they had previously backed the TwentysPlenty campaign.

“The Conservatives have chosen to be entirely unreasonable,” he said.

“They have no objective but to play politics with this. Now they’re calling for the scrapping of this change because he’s decided that that is politically expedient today, although he knows that the Welsh Government won’t scrap this change.”

Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, accused the Conservatives of opposing “every progressive reform in this country”.


“They were opposed to the creation of the NHS, they oppose the creation of the minimum wage, they were against the ban on smoking in public places, they’re even against votes for women,” he said.

“They’re always on the wrong side of history and they never learned.

“We will look back in years to come at the claims that have been made and we will find that their fears are overblown and their claims of calamity just don’t stack up.

“Speed will come down, fewer people will be killed, fewer people will have life-changing injuries.

“The burden on the police and the fire service of attending deadly collisions will ease, more people will feel safe in their communities and feel confident to walk and cycle around them.

“The second biggest public health harm – noise pollution – will lessen and parents will start to feel more confident letting their children play outside.”

Senedd members voted 38 to 15 to reject the Conservative motion and voted by the same margin to support the Plaid amendment.