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Swansea Council secures £2.95m for new road signs and legal orders

HUNDREDS of signs are being bought by Swansea Council ahead of the  20mph default speed limit coming into force in Wales and hundreds of existing ones are to be removed.

The authority has received a £2.95m grant from the Welsh Government, which is behind the new limit, on top of £551,000 received last financial year.

Councils in Wales have been busy preparing for the major change on roads with street lighting, which in some cases will require traffic regulation orders as well as signs. They will be able to identify roads which they think should be exempt from the blanket 20mph limit in residential areas.

Cabinet members in Swansea will hear more about the grant at a meeting on June 15. The funding won’t cover additional staff costs which might be needed to deal with problems after the limit is brought in.

The cabinet report acknowledged that the change “will raise issues in the community”. It added: “Although this is being implemented at a national level it is inevitable that there will be local concerns emerging as a consequence of the change in the period following implementation.”

The £2.95m is to be spent on:

  • 550 new posts and 1,100 signs to inform drivers of the speed limit change. The signs will be covered until September 17 when the new limit comes into effect.
  • The removal or covering of 260 existing roundels, which are road markings in the centre of a carriageway denoting a speed.
  • Legal work relating to retaining the current 30mph limit on part of the road network.
  • Removing 1,080 existing signs which contradict the new change in the limit.
  • Installing new ‘repeater’ signs on roads which will retain a 30mph limit.
  • Replacing 960 existing 20mph zone and ‘zone ends’ signs and removing 890 repeater signs and 720 roundels.

The report said council officers will continue to work with South Wales Police and Wales’ road safety partnership GoSafe to minimise disruption.

The default to 20mph is proving controversial. The Welsh Government said the move will be positive and commissioned a survey last year which found that 60% of a group of 1,000 respondents backed the proposal versus 39% against.

But a petition to the Senedd opposing it has gained nearly 22,000 signatures. The petition, which is under consideration by the Senedd petitions committee, claimed the 20mph decision was not representative of broader public opinion and therefore undemocratic to implement.

The Welsh Government said 20mph roads will improve safety and create a better environment for walkers and cyclists but that journey times may increase.

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Enforcement and compliance with the limit were questioned when the topic was debated by a Swansea Council scrutiny committee in March.

Cllr Chris Holley said he had no problem with 20mph roads at schools and in areas with lots of pedestrians but added: “What concerns me is there are roads where it’s plainly obvious that 20mph will not be stuck to.”

Cllr Victoria Holland said people should be proud of the new limit. “As mothers and as parents we are going to be saving kiddies’ lives and I think that’s an exceptional thing to do,” she said.

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