Mark Drakeford’s ULEZ-style war on motorists was today branded ‘stupid’ by locals who warned it could hurt businesses as fears grow that the plan to expand the number of 20mph roads could inflict a major economic blow.

The Labour First Minister of Wales today insisted that the policy imposed from Sunday will save the NHS £92million a year by reducing the number of deaths caused by car-related crashes.

He has also insisted companies must ensure their workers can do their roles without breaking the reduced limits.

But the measure, comparable in scale to Sadiq Khan‘s own hated ULEZ expansion across Greater London, has been branded as ‘absolutely insane’. Cabinet Minister Penny Mordaunt last night warned that the policy would damage the economy, while locals today warned that it would hurt their trade and cause commuter traffic from next week.

And the RAC today issued an urgent warning to drivers not to rely on their sat navs for the speed limit on Welsh roads because they will not have updated by the time the measure comes into force.

Speaking to MailOnline, taxi driver Keith Mcintyre who works at Courier Wales warned: ‘It is going to be manic. There is going to be more congestion. It is a stupid idea. Companies are definitely going to lose money.

‘Taxi drivers they are going to be hit especially on Fridays and Saturdays. What was a five-minute trip is going to take them 10 minutes, so they aren’t going to be able to do as many trips. What’s worse is they’re are bringing the speed limits in on roads that don’t already have bus lanes, so buses are going backed up traffic as well.

‘I live in Barry and I expect my journey time into Cardiff which normally takes 15 20 minutes will take half an hour on Monday.’

Tories have tabled a motion to scrap Mr Drakeford’s plan amid warnings it will cost at least £33million to implement. Emergency services have also warned that the blanket 20mph road restrictions will slow down response times, effectively putting lives at risk.

And in a sign of further chaos, an interactive map showing the locations of the 20mph zones across the country crashed this morning, apparently due to a surge in online traffic. The map, which is available on the Welsh Government’s website, later came back online.

Most roads in Wales that are currently 30mph will become 20mph, but councils have discretion to impose exemptions.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Use the layers filter on the top left to hide 30mph roads (in red / pink) and just show 20mph roads (in blue / orange)

This is a screenshot of a map showing where the Welsh Government will bring in new 20mph road restrictions. Blue shows where the Government will impose the speed limit, and orange shows where the 20mph zones will be brought in by legislation

This is a screenshot of a map showing where the Welsh Government will bring in new 20mph road restrictions. Blue shows where the Government will impose the speed limit, and orange shows where the 20mph zones will be brought in by legislation 

A message on the Welsh Government website today, showing that the map is unavailable

A message on the Welsh Government website today, showing that the map is unavailable

A furious backlash has seen the new signs defaced across Wales in areas including Conwy, Gwynedd, Newport, Torfaen, Wrexham and Flintshire.

How will the 20mph speed limit work in Wales – and will there be any exemptions? 

The default national speed limit in Wales will fall from 30mph to 20mph on ‘restricted roads’ from this Sunday.

From that date, the maximum speed you can legally travel on these types of roads will be 20mph.

‘Restricted roads’ are classified as those with streetlights spaced no more than 200 yards apart, usually located in residential and built-up areas.

However not all 30mph roads are restricted roads, and these will remain at 30mph.

For restricted roads, local authorities and the two Trunk Road agencies in Wales can also make exceptions to the default speed limit in consultation with local communities.

The Welsh Government says it is making the changes to reduce the number of collisions and severe injuries from them; encouraging more people to walk and cycle; helping to improve health and wellbeing; and making streets safer.

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The Welsh Conservatives, who are opposed to the rollout, have also cited Welsh Government documents that estimate the cost to the country’s economy could be between £2.7billion and £8.9billion.

Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie for Ynys Mon told the House of Commons yesterday: ‘The Labour Government in Cardiff supported by Plaid Cymru will be introducing a blanket 20mph speed restriction in built-up areas across Wales from September 17.

‘In many places – outside schools, outside hospitals – 20mph is appropriate.

‘Does the Leader of the House agree with many of my Ynys Mon constituents that this blanket approach will impact main roads and impact the Welsh economy?

‘And will she make time for a debate on how we should be supporting the Welsh economy, not punishing it?’

Ms Mordaunt replied: ‘This is absolutely insane even by the standards of Labour’s Welsh Government.

‘They have ignored businesses and they have ignored the public. They are pushing ahead with this scheme despite huge opposition and I think the latest estimate is it will cost the Welsh economy £4.5billion.

‘But, more disturbingly it is going to increase individuals’ fuel bills considerably and actually be harmful to the environment.’

She added: ‘[Ms Crosbie] is right, there are circumstances where of course 20mph speed limits are a good idea, but having them as the default for many roads is crazy.

‘Instead of punishing motorists, Labour should be focusing on fixing public transport, in particular the trains.

‘This situation is what the Labour Party refers to as their blueprint for governing Britain.’

First Minister Mark Drakeford (pictured with King Charles III and Queen Camilla in Brecon on July 20) said the reduction will protect lives and save the NHS in Wales £92million a year

First Minister Mark Drakeford (pictured with King Charles III and Queen Camilla in Brecon on July 20) said the reduction will protect lives and save the NHS in Wales £92million a year

Breaking down the £4.5billion figure, the Welsh Government says on its website: ‘Our assessment shows that reducing speeds to 20mph can result in an average increase of one minute per journey, nine lives saved and 98 serious injuries prevented each year.

Drivers warned not to rely on sat navs when Welsh roads switch 

Drivers are being warned not to rely on sat navs for the speed limit on Welsh roads when a cut from 30mph to 20mph is imposed from Sunday.

The RAC said motorists should ‘pay full attention’ to signs rather than electronic devices after the change is made.

Its head of policy Simon Williams said: ‘It’s vitally important that drivers are fully aware of the arrival of the 20mph limit in Wales, and pay full attention to all road signage.

‘And, until sat nav systems have been fully updated, they shouldn’t rely on them to know what the speed limit is on any particular stretch of Welsh road.’

Mr Williams said compliance with 20mph limits is ‘quite poor’ and it would be ‘more effective to target areas where they are most needed’ such as on residential roads or in areas where there is high footfall.

He added: ‘Even if compliance with new 20mph limits is poor, it should lead to an overall reduction in speeds which will have a positive effect on road safety.’

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‘Before the law was passed, we produced an impact assessment that considered all the potential costs. This was included in the explanatory memorandum.

‘It included the costs of any delays to travel time. The method used is now under academic debate for its effectiveness when calculating small delays.

‘So the estimated cost to the economy of £4.5billion over 30 years may not be an accurate reflection of the true cost. The slightly longer travel time was the only negative economic impact identified.

‘It is estimated that the casualty prevention savings, including the reduced impact on NHS and emergency services, could be up to £92million every year.’

Ms Mordaunt is the MP for Portsmouth North.

Portsmouth was the ‘first British city to implement a 20mph speed limit on almost all residential roads to reduce road casualties and protect pedestrians and cyclists’, according to the city council’s website.

Natasha Asghar, the Welsh Tories’ shadow transport minister, said: ‘Labour’s blanket 20mph speed limits will have a detrimental impact on our economy, emergency services, and the livelihoods of the people in Wales. 

‘That’s why in the Senedd this week, the Welsh Conservatives are forcing a final vote on the issue, telling the Labour Government to not go ahead with this ludicrous and dangerous policy.

‘With the Labour Government’s own explanatory memorandum to their 20mph bill stating that 20mph speed limits will cost the economy up to a whopping £9billion, it’s time for Labour to focus on the people’s priorities, which they continue to neglect. We believe this money would be better spent on more doctors, more teachers, and more nurses.

‘Now is the time for Labour to put their extreme ideology and mass confusion to one side and scrap barmy blanket 20mph speed limits.’

Drivers in Wales are tying red ribbons to their cars in protest against the new 20mph limits

Drivers in Wales are tying red ribbons to their cars in protest against the new 20mph limits

RAC’s head of policy Simon Williams said: ‘It’s vitally important that drivers are fully aware of the arrival of the 20mph limit in Wales, and pay full attention to all road signage.

‘And, until satnav systems have been fully updated, they shouldn’t rely on them to know what the speed limit is on any particular stretch of Welsh road.’

Mr Williams said compliance with 20mph limits is ‘quite poor’ and that it would be ‘more effective to target areas where they are most needed’ such as on residential roads or in areas where there is high footfall.

He added: ‘Even if compliance with new 20mph limits is poor, it should lead to an overall reduction in speeds which will have a positive effect on road safety.’

Today Mr Drakeford said drivers will be allowed to ‘get used’ to widespread 20mph limits from Sunday before enforcement begins.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I anticipate that there will be a number of weeks while people get used to a change of this sort. It is a major change. It will need time to bed in.

‘It is not a change that is being introduced in order to make life difficult for people and therefore the enforcement authorities will approach it in that way.

‘[They are] very well used to doing it, [they] enforce speed limits of all sorts in every part of Wales.

‘The approach will be a reasonable one in which we give people a chance to get used to the new regime.

‘And then, as the police say, people who flagrantly and deliberately are not prepared to obey the rules that everybody else will be following, then that will be a different matter.’

Many of the new signs, pictured in Cardiff, have been defaced across the country

Many of the new signs, pictured in Cardiff, have been defaced across the country

He also said employers must make sure their workers can do their roles without breaking reduced speed limits.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘Responsible employers should organise the working day of their employees in a way that allows them to discharge the duties that fall on them in a way that allows them to do it within the law.

‘They should be doing that now. They will need to do it in the future.

‘There is no excuse for employers deliberately to set out to require their employees not to be able to live with the rules that everybody else has to live with.

‘And, in this case… all this is about making sure that all those people, drivers included, are safe on the road, and that we reduce, here in Wales, the number of road traffic accidents and the number of people who lose their lives every day on the roads in Wales.’

Mr Drakeford also said increasing journey times to save lives is not an ‘unfair bargain’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Even if you add a minute to every journey, I say to people – and when I’m speaking to people, I think people understand this – it’s going to take you a minute longer to make your journey, and we will save ten people’s lives in Wales every year as a result of that one minute contribution that you are making.

‘It doesn’t seem a bad or unfair bargain.’

Mr Drakeford said a similar speed limit cut in Spain reduced road deaths in urban areas by a fifth, with cyclist fatalities down by 34 per cent.

He said: ‘Driving more slowly in built up urban areas saves people’s lives.’

Other parts of England shown above have also seen the introduction of low speed zones

Other parts of England shown above have also seen the introduction of low speed zones 

He added: ‘I think the evidence is incontrovertible. It’s why we had this in the Labour Party manifesto at our election in 2021 and this weekend we will deliver that promise.’

Earlier, Mr Drakeford said: ‘Politicians are very often criticised for not keeping their promises and this is a promise that we will be keeping here in Wales.’

Meanwhile Transport for London (TfL), which Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan chairs, said it will roll out another 40 miles of 20mph zones across multiple boroughs in the capital.

Once completed, nearly 90 miles of TfL roads will have been turned into 20mph limits.

TfL’s walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, said: ‘TfL data shows that 20mph speed limits are reducing the number of collisions on London’s roads, which is why I’m pleased the 20mph programme has been expanded.’

The Conservatives have made comparisons to London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez) which was expanded by Mr Khan on August 29.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies told MailOnline last month: ‘Labour are motivated by extreme ideology and not common sense. In London, they’ve implemented Ulez and in Wales they’re forcing through blanket 20mph zones.

‘Labour’s blanket 20mph zones will cost the Welsh economy yet they’re ploughing on regardless. Welsh Conservatives would scrap this extreme policy.’

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said the 20mph limit was 'crazy'

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said the 20mph limit was ‘crazy’

Mr Drakeford first proposed the plan in May 2019 and the Welsh Government has insisted it will reduce crashes, save lives, cut noise pollution and encourage people to leave their cars at home and walk or cycle instead.

But motoring campaigner Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK and Reform UK’s London mayoral candidate, told MailOnline: ‘This draconian anti-driver stupidity will not save lives, but may instead cause more accidents. Drivers continually monitoring the speedometer removes their focus from what’s on the road ahead.

‘It also increases pollution compared to driving effectively at the sensible efficient engine speed of 30mph. 

‘This is yet another misguided, virtue-signalling, costly waste of time that mirrors London’s own political folly, namely the cash grabbing Ulez-expansion scheme that the majority there don’t want or need either.’

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