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Wales speed limit change: Police chief admits ‘impact’ on emergency services in leaked letter | UK News

Changing the default speed limit in Wales’s built-up areas will have an “impact” on emergency services, according to a senior policing figure.

In a leaked letter to other emergency services, the assistant chief constable of South Wales Police said the change would “influence the speeds at which” responders can get to emergencies.

The Welsh government says emergency services will still be able to exceed speed limits when responding to urgent calls.

From 17 September, the speed limit for roads which are currently 30mph in Wales will be reduced to 20mph.

The country will become the first UK nation to introduce the change.

Local authorities can decide to make some roads exempt from the reduced speed limit.

Assistant chief constable, Mark Travis, said the new speed limits would be policed in “a proportionate, fair and consistent manner” in the letter obtained by the Welsh Conservatives.

Julies James, the Welsh government's climate change minister. Pic: Senedd TV
Julies James, the Welsh government’s climate change minister. Pic: Senedd TV

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Changing the default speed limit on restricted roads in Wales to 20mph does not impact on the legislation that allows police, fire and ambulance services to exceed speed limits in the course of emergency response duties.”

The fire service has been drafted in to help enforce the new speed limit, giving motorists the opportunity to watch a roadside “educational video” rather than face prosecution.

As well as the fire service and police, the government’s awareness campaign will involve local authorities, community groups and Go Safe – Wales’s road casualty reduction partnership.

The Welsh Conservatives, the largest opposition party in the Senedd, have previously called the change a “madcap policy”.

In response to the leaked letter, shadow transport minister, Natasha Asghar, said “contrary to saving lives, I fear that lives will actually be lost”.

Conservative MS for South Wales region Natasha Asghar, the first woman of colour to be elected into the Senedd, outside the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff Bay, Wales.
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Picture by: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images
Date taken: 12-May-2021
Natasha Asghar, shadow transport minsiter

Read more:
Reducing speed limits to 20mph has little impact on road safety – report
Drivers confused as signs on same road show differing speed limits

The policy will make streets and communities “safer”, according to the Welsh government’s climate change minister, Julie James.

“We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag charges and organ donation,” she said.

Sky News has approached South Wales Police for its response.

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