Welsh councils are facing outrage from residents as they spend public money to remove 20mph road signs – despite the speed limit staying exactly the same.
A default 20mph speed limit is being introduced in built-up areas across all of Wales on September 17, making it the first UK nation to bring in such a measure.
Welsh Government regulations set out what new road signs are needed and which ones need to be removed.
This includes a stipulation that signs warning of the entry and exit at 20mph zones must be removed by September 17, 2024.
Cardiff says this is because the signs will no longer be needed once the speed limit is made uniform across most restricted roads.
Meanwhile 20mph road markings and repeater signs – smaller signs attached to lampposts and other street signs – in street-lit areas will become illegal from September 17.
Local authorities have until September 17, 2028 to remove these, but some have started the process already, reports WalesOnline.
In a poll run by the outlet, readers were asked “Do you support the default speed limit changing from 30mph to 20mph in Wales?” to which there were 825 yes votes, but more than ten times as many – 8,770 – for no.
Flintshire Council has already begun removing the signs.
In an effort to minimise confusion over the removal of the signs, they tweeted: “The removal of these road markings doesn’t mean 20mph speed restrictions have been removed.”
They said that street lights will effectively perform the same job as a “reminder that you are in a 20mph area”.
Some people have also questioned why so many road signs and markings are being taken down – especially in 20mph pilot areas where they have been in place only for 18 months.
One astonished motorist responded: “What a total waste of taxpayers’ money.
“You cannot fix the potholes correctly – maybe concentrate on getting that right first.”
A spokesperson said: “Flintshire County Council is removing all speed roundel carriageway markings on the county’s restricted roads.
“This includes existing 30mph gateway markings, 20mph gateway markings and 20mph repeater markings that were implemented in Buckley, as part of the phase one settlement scheme
“It is a requirement of the change in legislation that the above-mentioned markings are removed, which will ensure that all restricted roads are signed and marked to an enforceable standard. All costs associated with the works are being funded by Welsh Government.”
The Welsh Government has long argued that 20mph speed limits in towns and villages will improve road safety.
More recently, it said lower speeds will “encourage a shift to more active forms of travel”.