‘It’s a small thing’ - Drakeford belittles Welsh drivers despite thousands signing petition against 20mph limits

‘It’s a small thing’ - Drakeford belittles Welsh drivers despite thousands signing petition against 20mph limits

Mark Drakeford appeared on GB News to defend his measure

Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 09/10/2023

- 16:00

Updated: 09/10/2023

- 16:42

The Welsh First Minister believes lives will be saved

Mark Drakeford has risked the fury of Welsh drivers by insisting new 20mph zones are a “small thing to ask”.

Speaking to GB News Deputy Political Editor Tom Harwood, the Welsh First Minister defended the new policy, insisting it will save lives in the long run.

More than 450,000 people have signed a petition to scrap the default 20mph speed limit which came into effect on Sunday 17 September.

Since then, Drakeford has faced repeated calls to U-turn with reports of vandalism of the new 20mph signs.

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford spoke to GB News' Tom Harwood about the new speed limits


Speaking on GB News, the First Minister brushed off concerns by suggesting Welsh residents will become accustomed to the radical change as time progresses.

“We take the petitioners’ views seriously”, he said.


“Once the policy is settled in, we will make sure local authorities are properly assigned roads to different speed limits.

“In the meantime, the system is settling in very well. People are abiding carefully by it.

“We will see the advantages in the lives that we will save and the accidents that will not take place.

“It’s a small thing to ask people to drive a little bit more slowly to achieve that.”

A 20mph speed limit sign

A petition calling for the Welsh Government to scrap the radical measure has topped 450,000


Wales became the first UK nation to impose the measure, with speed limits in built up areas dropping from 30mph to 20mph.

Welsh unrest has been laid bare by protests, including a march in Cardiff last month.

The devolved government said the aim of the default limit is to save lives and make communities safer.

While speaking to Harwood, Drakeford admitted there is scope for change, suggesting certain roads may not be appropriate as 20mph zones.

Mark DrakefordDrakeford is under more fire for the draconian measurePA

“It’s important to review things”, he said.

“We need to give it a few months to be sure how the patterns of travel are settling in.

“It’s local authorities who decide the exemptions to the policy and we’ve asked them again to review that to make sure that the right decisions are made.”

Pressed on the “strength of feeling” in Wales, evidenced by the petition being “the biggest in Welsh history”, Drakeford told GB News that the development is a more a sign of the need for the policy to properly bed in.

“I think it tells you that change is difficult”, he said.

“When you’re making things happen you’ve got to be prepared to have those discussions and take those people with you, and that’s exactly how we will be approaching it.”

The Welsh Labour Party did not receive unanimous support in the Senedd for the controversial plan’s rollout, with a motion being tabled by the opposition party.

The Welsh Conservatives failed to halt the scheme, despite suggesting that its estimate cost to the economy of increased journey times from lower average vehicle speeds could be anywhere between £2.7 billion and £8.9 billion.

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