Calls to reverse Newtown's 20mph speed limits
Following a survey on Facebook – calls have been made to change parts of two roads in Newtown back to 30mph after the limit was lowered to 20mph in September.
At a full Powys County Council meeting this Thursday, cabinet member for highways, Liberal Democrat councillor Jackie Charlton, will respond to the call.
In the section of the meeting for questions from the public, John Williams will ask Councillor Charlton when will the council “implement” changing the speed limits on Pool Road and Kerry Road back to 30mph.
Mr Williams said: “In early October, a poll was carried out in three of the more popular community Facebook groups in Newtown, to determine how people felt about the imposition of 20mph zones on Pool Road and Kerry Road in Newtown.
“In just two days, the overwhelming majority of recipients were in favour of returning both roads to 30mph.”
Mr Williams has provided arguments that would back up changing the speed limits back to what they were.
An 840-metre section of Pool Road (A4811) was changed to 20mph.
Mr Williams claims that as there is a “dedicated cycle and pedestrian paths” on this route it qualifies for an exemption from the speed limit under the legislation.
A 600-metre section of the Kerry Road (A489) was changed to 20mph.
Mr Williams said that as this is a “main arterial road” for traffic passing through Newtown this would qualify it for an exemption from the 20mph limit.
Mr Williams believes that not making these roads exceptions to the 20mph limit was an “error” by the council that needs to be rectified.
Mr Williams said: “The Welsh Government guidance states that the highway authorities (in this case Powys County Council) continue to have the flexibility to set local speed limits that are right for individual roads, reflecting local needs and considerations.
“I hope that you can meet this expectation.”
Councillor Charlton explained that all highway authorities including the Powys had identified the locations where it was considered that the new 20mph speed limit should not apply and the current 30mph limit should remain in place.
Ahead of the speed limit changes, the council held a consultation from June 30 and July 21 to exempt 241 stretches of road throughout the county.
After receiving 28 responses for and against some of the proposals – tweaks were made to a dozen of the proposed road speed changes.
Councillor Charlton said: “The criteria, set by Welsh Government, was based on the density of adjacent residential and retail premises fronting a road and the proximity of facilities such as educational establishments, community centres and hospitals as well as active travel routes.”
She explained that the procedure is “open to interpretation” and that in some areas it may need “reassessing”.
Councillor Charlton said: “We are currently awaiting the publication of Welsh Government’s update to the ‘Setting Local Speed Limits in Wales’ guidance document.
“This document is anticipated to be published in 2024 and will encompass updated guidance on what roads should be 30mph or 20mph.”
“Since the introduction of the new 20mph restrictions there has been considerable discussion amongst highway authorities across Wales about the process of reviewing its exception sites.
“The consensus is that the new 20mph restrictions should be allowed to settle for around 12 months and in the meantime, authorities are collating all requests and comments received for consideration in the future.”
She added that reviews would be conducted after a year has passed and the revised guidance has been published.
Mr Williams will be allowed to ask a follow-up question at Thursday’s meeting if he wants to.
The change of speed limits has come in for heavy criticisms from some quarters with a petition garnering 466,578 signatures to scrap the 20mph speed limit.
The Welsh Government maintain that that having a 20mph default speed limit is expected to result in 40 per cent fewer road collisions and this in turn would save up to 10 lives and stop up to 2,000 people being injured every year.