Wales has witnessed a significant rise in vandalism and graffiti targeting speed limit signs since the nationwide rollout of the 20mph default limit in September 2023.

This controversial policy, aimed at improving road safety by reducing speeds in residential areas, has sparked public frustration, with nearly half a million people signing a petition against it.

The surge in vandalism is causing headaches for local authorities struggling to keep up with repairs. Caerphilly County Council reported a staggering increase, with 88 incidents in the five years before the switch compared to at least 53 in just the past five months. Similar spikes are being reported in other areas like Monmouthshire and Torfaen.

While some councils haven’t provided specific figures, they all acknowledge a rise in damaged signs. The cost of repairs is putting a strain on already stretched budgets, with Newport City Council spending around £1,000 since September.

The Welsh Government provided funding for the new signs and included anticipated repair costs. However, concerns remain about safety. Damaged or missing signs can confuse drivers and create dangerous situations, potentially negating the intended safety benefits of the lower speed limit.

Police are investigating these incidents, with one arrest reported in Gwent. But the larger issue of public discontent with the 20mph limit remains. It’s a complex situation with road safety concerns on one hand and driver frustration on the other. Some motorists argue the limit is too low, leading to longer journey times and impacting business deliveries.

Whether the Welsh Government will consider adjustments to the policy in light of this public backlash is yet to be seen. They may look into enhanced signage campaigns to improve public understanding of the rationale behind the 20mph limits. Additionally, they might explore ways to address driver concerns, potentially through exemptions for certain roads or implementing a tiered system with variations based on specific locations.


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