'All about making people feel safer in their communities'; that’s what the Transport Secretary has said about his plans to deliver targeted change to the 20mph policy.

Speaking to Susan Perry, Regional Editor for Newsquest North Wales, Cabinet Secretary for Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said he and the Welsh Government wanted to listen to people about the controversial policy that was introduced in September and cost an estimated £30m.

The Welsh Government's decision to revert roads from 30mph to 20mph led to the biggest ever petition received by the Welsh Government with over 470,000 signatures.

But why change now?

Mr Skates said: “The First Minister was very clear when I first took the job that he wanted me and the Welsh Government to listen to people on 20mph, to take stock of where we are, to make sure that those routes that are not appropriate for 20mph should revert back to 30mph and ensure that people come with on a  journey of listening, expressing opinion.

“We will be providing new guidance to councils to make the necessary changes in communities and above all we want to make sure by the end of the process we bring a better degree of majoritive view to the point that road safety is vitally important. 20mph works in places where there are schools, hospitals etc and where it has not worked so well we will make the changes required.

But what about cost? It will cost reverting the roads back.

He said: “Two points on cost, the cost of doing this and the cost of the options moving forward in order to change 30mph to 20mph. You would normally have to undergo a process that costs around about £3,500 per road and that involves a traffic regulation order, we are not in charge of that in Welsh Government that is something that the UK Government is responsible for.

“In small communities you can imagine, those towns and villages in North East Wales where people want them to be changed and it costs £3,500 in every single instance. It would simply be too onerous for councils to embark on that bureaucratic work and so the cost of changing from 30 to 20mph is far, far less by introducing the policy we have introduced.

“The cost of making changes to 20mph routes to revert them back to 30mph where people want us to revert them back is a lot less through what we are doing then it would be through abandoning the policy, repelling legislation, changing every single 20mph back to 30 and then begin the process all over again of identifying individual roads to be changed back to 20mph again. So you would have very costly chaos if the policy was to be abandoned and all roads be reverted back, whereas what we are proposing will come much quicker at far less cost and crucially I think it will involve the public.”

But what message does he have for Leader readers? And what about people who have been fined for exceeding 20mph? What if those roads revert back to 30mph?

He said: “I am sensitive to that important point, it’s something that I’ve raised with partners as part of the process moving forward but I can’t get involved at all in operational matters for the police and GoSafe. I want to make sure that our police and GoSafe partnership have public confidence and I want to work as closely as I can with them  but when it comes to day-to day-enforcement - that’s not a responsibility  that I should get involved in.

Mr Skates added: “I urge readers to make their voice heard, as for the next two months I am going to be doing pretty much nothing else than meeting people and organisations, listening to people sharing experiences as well as seeing how it works on the ground.

"Obviously I represent an area of North Wales where this has been particularly contentious so I am looking forward to meeting people who have concerns about the policy, I am looking forward to meeting people who support it and at the end of the process I am hoping that we can largely come together and agree that where 20mph works it works really well, where it doesn’t work so well they should revert back to 30mph.

“It is the single biggest issue that people talk about. Outside schools, hospitals, playgrounds, built up areas it works really well but lots are identifying the same roads where it’s not working so well.

“In unifying people it will actually address concerns. It’s all about making people feel safer in their communities by reducing collisions, hopefully at the same time saving lives.”