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Drivers and pedestrians in Torfaen to have their say on 30mph speed limit

A vandalised bus stop
Henllys Way in Cwmbran.

DRIVERS and pedestrians will be able to have their say on roads where the 30 mile per hour speed limit is retained when Wales switches to a new slower limit in residential areas.

In September 20mph will become the default speed limit in residential, or built up, areas across Wales but councils can agree exceptions where the current limit will remain in force.

Torfaen council’s cabinet has approved 36 locations across the borough where the 30mph limit will be retained in line with an assessment of routes that has considered local factors such as the amount of housing, whether there are community facilities such as schools or hospitals close by and walking and cycling routes.

The council will publish temporary traffic orders, known as an Experimental Traffic Order, to keep the 30mph limit on the roads for a trial period of up to 18 months.

The time will be used to gather evidence and opinions on whether the 30mph limit should remain in place or a road should default to the new 20mph limit that will automatically apply in built up areas with street lighting.

Highways director Mark Thomas said: “The benefit of a trial is to avoid the adversarial approach of permanent traffic orders where parties often have entrenched views and will debate that without the ability to view a trial and learn lessons from there.

“Once that trial period has been completed there will be an open and transparent approach to presenting the result of the trial and moving forward to either amending the proposals or making them permanent.”

Cabinet member Cllr David Daniels said he wanted to know if the views of residents living alongside a road or other road users would “carry more weight” in the review.

Mr Thomas said officers will look at the impacts on communities, including the ability to be able to walk and cycle, and the impact on public transport routes.

Rachel Jowitt, the council’s environment director, said the assessment tool the council has agreed to determine if a 30mph limit should remain considers various factors and said: “It’s not car focused, it’s community and wider placed focused.”

Ms Jowitt said it is anticipated a further report, at the end of the 18 month trial, will come back to cabinet for it to make a decision on what the permanent speed limit should be at those 36 locations.

She also said it was likely some residents will want areas with 20mph limits to revert to 30 and the tool and temporary orders could also be used in those situations.

She said: “There are likely to be other parties proposing 20mph is lifted up to 30. This approach allows us to be flexible and continue to engage.”

Cllr Daniels, who represents Pontnewydd in Cwmbran, said he welcomed the lower limit, even if it would be an inconvenience.

The Labour councillor said: “In 12 years of being a councillor I’ve not had anyone living near a road looking for it to be faster. As a driver it will be an inconvenience but will ultimately make Torfaen safer.”

It was also agreed that cabinet member for the environment Mandy Owen consult with local councillors in Abersychan over where the 30mph limit should apply and if a 40mph buffer zone is required from the 60mph national speed limit.

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Drivers and pedestrians in Torfaen to have their say on 30mph speed limit