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Wales’ 20mph speed limit now in force amid much controversy

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FROM Today (Sunday, Sept 17), the vast majority of residential roads across Wales will see a new speed limit of 20mph, a decision that has sparked extensive debate.

The Labour-led Welsh government has championed this initiative, suggesting that this would lead to a significant reduction in road accidents, saving both lives and NHS resources. They also believe such a move will make communities more pleasant to inhabit and work.

However, the decision has its critics. The Conservative party warns that the new limit could adversely impact the Welsh economy to the tune of billions. Natasha Asghar, the Welsh shadow transport minister, has branded the rollout as “madcap” and “ludicrous”, sentiments echoed by Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons.

The RAC has issued a warning to drivers to be extra vigilant, especially this Sunday. Simon Williams, the motoring group’s head of policy, has highlighted potential pitfalls in satnav systems which may not reflect the recent updates.

Welsh Labour’s commitment to this policy can be traced back to their manifesto during the 2021 Senedd election. Despite the popularity of the party during the elections, a recent petition opposing the 20mph limit has amassed 70,000 signatures. There have also been incidents of newly erected 20mph signs being vandalised throughout the region.

Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, acknowledges the controversy, stating that there will be a “period of turbulence” post-implementation. However, he remains confident that the public will eventually see the value and logic behind the policy.

What’s Driving the Change? Globally, evidence suggests that lowering speed limits can result in a significant reduction in collisions. The Welsh government projects a potential decrease of 40% in collisions, saving up to 10 lives and preventing up to 2,000 injuries annually. The transition aims to encourage walking and cycling, which would in turn, reduce car pollution.

Which Areas are Affected? Primarily, roads that currently have a 30mph limit will see the change to 20mph. However, local authorities retain the discretion to keep certain roads at the current speed limit.

The Economic Debate While opponents cite a staggering £4.5bn potential economic loss from the scheme, this figure, sourced from a Welsh government report, spans over 30 years. The Welsh government emphasises that the cost of rolling out the 20mph limit is £32m, which could be swiftly offset by saving the NHS an estimated £92m annually.

Trials and Reactions Eight trial areas saw varied responses. In St Brides Major, south Wales, the results seem positive. Yet, in Buckley, north Wales, there has been substantial opposition.

Enforcement Measures The police will primarily enforce the new speed limit. Interestingly, there will also be involvement from the firefighters’ road safety team, though this decision hasn’t been without its criticisms.

A Global Trend? Spain saw the introduction of a similar limit in 2021, which led to a 13% decrease in pedestrian deaths in specific areas. Despite some opposition in the UK, many British cities have adopted 20mph zones. Notably, Portsmouth, represented by Penny Mordaunt, was among the pioneers of this movement.

For now, the eyes of the UK will be on Wales, watching the outcomes and possible ripple effects of this decisive move.

LIVING STREETS CYMRU

Living Streets Cymru, part of the UK charity for everyday walking, is celebrating new legislation to reduce speed limits in Wales.

From today (17 September 2023), Wales will become the first UK nation to adopt a 20mph default speed limit on residential streets.

The new legislation means that most roads that currently operate as 30mph areas will reduce to 20mph. It is estimated that the move will save 6-10 lives every year, result in 40% fewer collisions and prevent up to 2,000 people being injured.

Research shows that setting the default speed limit at 20mph in residential roads in Wales will reduce pressure on the NHS from a reduction in injuries from road traffic collisions and save £92m each year.

In 2019, Spain reduced the speed limit to 30km/h (18.64mph) on the majority of its roads. Since then, there have been 20% fewer urban road deaths, with fatalities reduced by 34% for cyclists and 24% for pedestrians.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “Introducing 20mph as the default speed on our residential streets will improve the places where we live, work and go to school.

“When someone is hit at 30mph, they are around five times more likely to be killed than if they were hit at 20mph. This is, quite literally, life-changing legislation.

“We will continue to work with Welsh Government to ensure that our streets and pavements are safe and accessible for everyone in our communities.”

Reducing speed limits will make it safer for more people in Wales to walk and cycle for short journeys, and as a result, reduce car use, congestion and air pollution.

In a recent survey, one in three Welsh adults said that 20mph speed limits would increase their likelihood of walking more often.

Data from WOW – the walk to school challenge from Living Streets – reported that schools in pilot 20mph areas have seen a 39% increase in active travel journeys (25 versus 18 percentage point increase) compared to schools predominantly in 30mph areas. Children also reported feeling much safer on their journey to and from school each day.

Living Streets Cymru is a member organisation of the 20mph Welsh Government Task Force Group, which provided evidence to support the 20mph restriction. In 1934, Living Streets (then called the Pedestrians Association) successfully advocated for the introduction of the 30mph limit.

SUSTRANS CYMRU

Sustrans Cymru said it welcomes the new legislation from Welsh Government that will make 20mph the default speed limit on restricted roads.

Speaking on the importance and impact of the landmark change, Christine Boston, Director of Sustrans Cymru, said: “Today, Wales takes a huge step forward as a country that prioritises the safety and quality of life of its people.

“By introducing 20mph as the new default speed limit on restricted roads, Wales’ streets will be safer and healthier places.

“This is the biggest safety change of a generation.

“The strongest and most obvious case for the 20mph default speed limit, simply, is that it will save lives.

“To disagree or disregard that is to accept death and injury as a standard – we want better for the people of Wales, which is why Sustrans wholly supports 20mph default speed limits.

“Lower speeds reduce the number of collisions due to shorter stopping distances and lessen the severity of injuries where collisions take place.

“Putting safety to one side, though, we strongly believe that 20mph default limits will foster stronger communities through calmer, safer, and friendlier streets.

“There will be fewer communities in Wales severed by fast roads, fewer streets where parents fear for their children to play, and fewer people put off from getting to essential local services.

“People in Wales have always had a strong sense of community and solidarity.

“We believe this will only be strengthened with less pollution and less danger on the roads in our communities across Wales.

“We believe 20mph will encourage all those things we know to be good.

“This is why we campaign for active travel, this is why we campaign for happier and healthier places to live, and this is why we support default 20mph speed limits on restricted roads.”

Natasha Asghar MS

Commenting on the Labour Government’s blanket 20mph speed limit being introduced, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS said: “The Labour Government’s blanket 20mph speed limit coming into force today will cost the Welsh economy up to £8.9 billion, slow down our emergency services, and negatively impact people’s livelihoods.

“Sadly, with the Labour Deputy Minister refusing to rule out further speed limit changes, along with the Labour Government’s road building ban and the introduction of road charging, Labour continue to wage their anti-worker, anti-road and anti-motorist agenda.

“Only the Welsh Conservatives are standing up for our motorists and focusing on the people’s priorities.”

THE VIEW OF THE WELSH GOVERNMENT

The Welsh Government recently released a Press Release stating the following: “We recently became the first UK nation to pass legislation to lower the default national speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets from 30mph to 20mph when the Senedd voted in favour in July this year. Work is now underway to get Wales ready for that change, as limits will begin to change from September next year.

Here are seven things you may not know about the new 20mph default speed limit:

  1. Will it improve safety?

Yes, and the evidence is clear. Decreasing speed limits reduces collisions and saves lives. Previous research has shown that there are 40% fewer collisions in areas with 20mph compared with 30mph. In Wales, it has been estimated that with widespread introduction of 20mph, somewhere between 6 to 10 lives would be saved and between 1200 and 2000 casualties avoided each year. The value of preventing these casualties is between £58m and £94m each year.

As well as making collisions less severe when they do happen, the slower speed also increases the chances of avoiding a collision in the first place and reducing the burden on the NHS. Prevention is better than cure!

2. Will it improve the environment and help create safer communities?

Whatever car you have, getting to 30mph requires more than twice as much energy as getting to 20mph. In fact, evidence suggests that as a result of smoother driving styles, reducing braking and acceleration, improved traffic flow, and possible reductions in fuel consumption, 20mph produces less air pollution than 30mph.

People surveyed say that traffic speed is a barrier to walking and cycling for short journeys, so by lowering the speed limit, we’re helping to create safer, quieter, and more pleasant environments where people feel safer to walk and cycle, further reducing air pollution and benefiting people’s health and the local economy. Welsh communities will become better places to live.

3. Do people support it?

People living in communities where 20mph is already the default speed limit are positive about the change. Evidence from a survey conducted on behalf of the Welsh Government showed that the majority of people were in support of the new lower speed limit – almost two thirds of people surveyed said they would support a speed limit of 20mph in the area they live and 55% saying that ‘streets would be a lot nicer for pedestrians with a 20mph speed limit’. 62% of people also said they wanted ‘drivers to slow down a bit on our roads’.

4. Will people observe the limit?

The 30mph speed limit for residential areas was set before World War II, when there were far fewer cars on the roads and speed limits were set without the wealth of research and data that we have now. Research indicates that the vast majority of drivers observe speed limits on residential streets.

5. Is it a blanket approach?

No. Currently 30mph is the default speed limit for streets with street lighting, but there are variations to that limit marked by signs on the road. In the same way, under the new 20mph legislation, local councils can use their local knowledge to retain a 30mph limit where there is a case for doing so. These 30mph roads will be marked by signs in the same way that variations from the current default speed limit are used.

6. Who else is doing this?

The benefits of reducing speeds are becoming recognised all over the world. 120 countries recently signed the Stockholm Declaration on Road Safety, agreeing that reducing the speed limit to  20mph will improve road safety. In 2021 Spain set speed limits in urban streets to 30km/h (equivalent to 20mph) and now other European countries have 30km/h limits for most of their local roads. Closer to home, areas like central London, the Scottish Borders, Lancashire and Cheshire and Chester have made 20mph the default speed limit for residential streets.

7. When will it come into force?

The new 20mph default speed limit came into force in September 2023. This will arguably be the biggest change to Welsh roads since the wearing of seatbelts was made compulsory in 1983. It is a big change, but like wearing a seat belt, adapting your driving to the new speed limit will become as natural as driving at 30mph is now!

Crime

Man found not guilty of stalking beauty salon owner

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FRANK JANIUREK, 43, of Heol Glyndwr in Fishguard, has been acquitted of stalking the owner of a beauty salon after a trial at Swansea Crown Court. The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict following approximately two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

Janiurek was accused of causing serious alarm or distress to the woman between 25 March and 10 July 2022. The prosecution claimed that after receiving a facial treatment at the salon on 8 March 2022, Janiurek began sending numerous emails and making frequent calls to the salon, often repeating questions that had already been answered. He was also alleged to have walked past the salon daily and liked one of the complainant’s Instagram pictures using an account under a false name. Additionally, it was claimed that he stared at the complainant for an extended period while she was out in Cardigan celebrating her birthday.

Caitlin Brazel, prosecuting, argued that these actions constituted stalking, causing serious alarm or distress. However, Janiurek pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Matthew Murphy, defending Janiurek, contended that the complainant had not directly communicated her discomfort to the defendant until 1 June. Murphy stated, “She doesn’t tell him anything about his behaviour and the effect it’s having on her before June 1.” He argued that if the complainant felt uncomfortable, she should have been more direct in her communication.

Murphy also highlighted that the complainant’s actions, such as signing off emails with ‘All the best’ and stating she had an injured arm and was not taking on new clients, did not clearly indicate that she wanted the contact to end. He noted that Janiurek, who is neurodivergent and has Asperger’s syndrome, was primarily engaging with the business, not the complainant personally. Murphy emphasised that all of Janiurek’s messages were related to beauty treatments, except for one occasion when he inquired about the complainant’s injured arm.

Regarding the Instagram picture, Murphy pointed out that it was posted on the business’s account, not the complainant’s personal account.

Recorder David Elias KC, who presided over the trial, thanked the jury for their careful consideration of the case. Following the not guilty verdict, Janiurek was allowed to leave the dock, having been acquitted of all charges.

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Crime

Cannabis factory with over 800 plants found in west Wales drugs bust

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POLICE in Carmarthenshire made a major drugs bust this week when they found over 800 cannabis plants in what was supposed to be a vacant property.

A 26-year old man was arrested and has now been remanded into custody.

The police are appealing for information and have released photographs of the illicit cannabis production facility.

A police spokesperson told The Herald on Friday (May 24): “Dyfed Powys Police executed a warrant at the Mountain Gate, Tycroes, Ammanford on Tuesday May 21.

“The vacant property was found to have a large hydroponic set up inside, with approx. 800 cannabis plants seized by officers.

“One man, Beni Mirashi age 26, was arrested and was charged with being concerned in the production of cannabis.

“He appeared at Llanelli Magistrates Court on 23 May and was remanded to next appear at Swansea Crown Court on June 24.”

Police asked that if anyone has any information that may support officers in their investigation, they are asked to contact us either through a direct message on social media, online at: 
https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101

Quoting reference: 24*459007

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News

Red Bull Hardline Wales confirms rider list for 2024

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RED BULL Hardline, known as the most challenging downhill mountain bike race world wide, confirms the final rider list for this year’s Wales event. 

Following its first event overseas, with a stop Down Under, Red Bull Hardline returns to its home in Wales’ Dyfi valley to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The brainchild of Dan Atherton a decade ago, 34 of the brightest and best talents in downhill mountain biking are set to descend on the north Wales course. With the 2023 event sadly curtailed by the Welsh weather, there’s old scores to settle and it’s all to play for in 2024.

Confirmed Rider List:

NameNationality
Ronan DunneIRL
Bernard KerrUK
Brook MacDonaldNZL
Charlie HattonUK
Adam BraytonUK
Craig EvansUK
Theo ErlangsenSA
Matteo IniguezFRA
Juanfer VelezCOL
Gaetan VigeFRA
Jim MonroUK
Matt JonesUK
Edgar BrioleFRA
George BranniganNZ
Sam GaleNZ
Jono JonesUK
Sam BlenkinsopNZ
Brendan FaircloughUK
Josh BrycelandUK
Dennis LuffmanUK
Sam HockenhullUK
Josh LoweUK
Taylor VernonUK
Thibault LalyFRA
Thomas GenonBEL
Szymon GodziekPOL
Sebastian HolguinCOL
Alex StorrUK
Vincent TupinFRA
Harry MolloyUK
Matteo IniguezFRA

Female riders will begin training on Monday, giving them ample time to familiarise themselves with the new course, with Tahnée Seagrave, Cami Nogueira and Hannah Bergmann all set to continue to push the boundaries of their sport once again. Louise-Anna Ferguson will be returning to Wales fresh from her success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, putting on a gutsy performance to finish a full finals race run despite an early crash. New to Red Bull Hardline, Vaea Verbeeck will make her first appearance, bringing fresh fire power to the women’s lineup 

Following his stand-out success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, Ronan Dunne will be taking to the start line with aims of achieving the double. Nipping at his heels will be three-time winner Bernard Kerr, who placed second in Tasmania back in February. 2017 champion Craig Evans is back once again and eager to replicate his success of 7 years previous.

The breathtaking race will be broadcasted live globally on Red Bull TV on Sunday 2nd June at 2.30pm GMT. Ahead of the event, fans can enjoy the week’s best action from course walk and practice on the Red Bull Bike YouTube ahead of the main event. 

For further Red Bull Hardline rider updates and for more information visit www.redbull.com/hardline and make sure to save the link to Red Bull Bike YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@RedBullBike/featured to not miss out on the week’s best action.

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