Welsh Government plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit in residential areas in Wales have divided opinion – with public reaction lukewarm to say the least. Ministers in Cardiff Bay want to reduce the default speed limit in cities and towns from 30mph to 20mph from 17 September. But it has prompted backlash and now a petition calling for the changes to be scrapped – which has collected nearly 22,000 signatures – looks set to be debated in the Senedd following a meeting of the Petitions Committee. I am not in favour of a blanket 20mph restriction and back my Conservative colleagues who only want to see a lower limit outside schools, churches or other areas where children or vulnerable groups are likely to be congregating. There is a growing sense of unease that the people of Wales are not able to have a proper say in this policy decision as the Welsh Labour Government seems intent on pushing ahead.
Indeed, for a government that is advocating an anti-car and anti-motorist agenda, it’s surprising that ministers are not more supportive of public transport. Despite offering an extra £20m to replace Covid-era emergency funding for Wales’ bus network that ends this summer, transport minister Lee Waters has admitted it will not be enough to save all services. It leaves a question mark hanging over the future of many local bus routes – including the 65 bus service connecting Monmouth, Chepstow and the villages along the Wye Valley high road. Friends of the 65 Bus group has expressed fears about the negative consequences facing passengers - who are stuck in the middle between Welsh Government and bus operators – as services are scaled back. For many passengers and older residents in rural areas, where a regular bus service provides a key lifeline, these consequences will be catastrophic. I continue to strongly oppose any move to further reduce the network and availability of bus routes both in Monmouthshire and more widely in Wales.
It was a pleasure to attend the highly anticipated Torfaen and Monmouthshire Business Awards 2023. The two counties are intricately linked and there is a thriving community of businesses and entrepreneurs in the region with some fantastic stand out success stories. There are too many to mention individually but congratulations to all the winners. Abergavenny Market Hall is a brilliant venue and my thanks in particular to the caterers who did a wonderful (and delicious!) job.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 14 June 2023 and Abergavenny Chronicle on 15 June 2023*