A West Wales politician has accused Senedd members in Cardiff Bay of being 'out of touch' with the people of west Wales over new 20mph speed limits that are set to come into force on Sunday.
Jonathan Edwards, an independent MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, says he has been 'inundated' with corresepondence from residents expressing strong objections to the 20mph speed limit plans.
Mr Edwards said: “Over the summer I have visited a number of communities in Carmarthenshire to speak to people directly and the new 20mph speed limit has been raised consistently.
“I have also been inundated with correspondence from constituents expressing strong objections to this policy change by the Welsh Government.
“It is a burning hot topic in our communities.
"Constituents tell me how out of touch Senedd Members in Cardiff are in pushing forward these proposals.
"With the NHS on its knees, my own personal view is that the Senedd Members should be concentrating on making sure people can see their GP and access public dentistry.
“I am very concerned with how this scheme will be policed – with police resources already stretched and under resourced.
“There is merit in implementing the policy in large urban areas such as Cardiff, Swansea and Newport as a slower speed helps limit congestion.
"I am not convinced that this is a priority for rural areas such as Carmarthenshire.
"I am hoping the Welsh Government will see sense and take a more flexible approach going forward and its time for the areas Senedd Members to speak up.”
A debate is being held at the Senedd this evening, with the Welsh Conservatives calling for the 20mph speed limit order, set to come into force on 17 September, to be repealed.
Speaking before the debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS 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 £9 billion, 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.
“With public opinion so low and an ITV poll released yesterday highlighting that 66 per cent of Wales are against this madcap policy, now is the time for Labour to put their extreme ideology and mass confusion to one side and this ill-thought out blanket 20mph speed limit project.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford says that the 20mph strategy is the right thing to do, saying: "I understand that all change is challenging, especially at the start of making a difference, saving lives, preventing accidents, giving people back the streets on which they live.
"I’m also confident that once it’s there, and people get used to it, people will find the advantages of it just as other changes in the fields of road transport – the breathalyser, seatbelt wearing, adverse speed limits – controversial in their time, are now completely accepted. It was a commitment in Labour’s manifesto; it was in front of people in Wales when they cast their votes. Politicians are very often criticised for not keeping their promises and this is a promise that we will be keeping here in Wales.”
The debate is set to take place at around 5.15pm on Wednesday, 13 September.