FIRST MINISTER of Wales Mark Drakeford has addressed the nation on various issues today.

Mr Drakeford held a press conference as the Senedd begins its new term and addressed numerous topics – including the controversial decision to introduce a 20mph speed limit across Wales.

The default 20mph on restricted roads is being implemented by Welsh Government from this Saturday (September 17). 

Mr Drakeford visited St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan last week - one of eight Welsh communites where the policy has already been introduced - where he claims  residents spoke “about the benefits and improvements” they’d seen since the limit was introduced.

He accused the public of being critical of Welsh Labour for keeping their promises, referencing how the policy was included in Labour’s manifesto during the last general election in 2019.

Mr Drakeford claimed that the move will cost around £32 million in “one off expenditure” but suggested that this will save £92 million a year for the NHS, adding that the expenditure of implementing the police will be “paid back many times over”.

He admitted that all change is “challenging” and referenced policies in the past that proved controversial initially.

The 20mph speed limit, according to the First Minister, will “save lives and prevent accidents” and he believed that once people get used to it, and the “advantages” it brings the policy will be “completely accepted”.

Later in the briefing he was asked whether backlash to the move had made Welsh Government reconsider whether this policy is right for Wales.

Mr Drakeford reiterated that this move was outlined in the Labour manifesto ahead of people casting their votes in 2019.

“It’s a promise that we will be keeping,” he said.

“I am reinforced in my belief that it is the right thing to do.”

According to Mr Drakeford a similar policy adopted in Spain has seen a 20 per cent reduction in urban deaths and a 34 per cent reduction in fatalities in cyclists.

He added that Welsh Government is “used to controversy” when they introduced a new policy – referencing the organ donation system introduced to Wales in 2015 which, while controversial at the time, is now used all over the UK.

Mr Drakeford believes introducing the 20mph limit is “absolutely worth doing” despite some opposing the move.

But, leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Daives MS, has criticised Welsh Labour for making the move while “admitting a ‘bleak financial outlook’ for Wales.”

“Mark Drakeford said flippantly that the £33 million cost of blanket 20mph limits were a ‘small cost to pay’,” said Mr Davies.

“But again [he] failed to mention the up to £8.9 billion hit to the Welsh economy as outlined in his own explanatory papers, which is absolutely not a small cost given current economic pressures.

“As our unemployment numbers, NHS waiting lists and education outcomes languish at the bottom of the UK league tables, Mark Drakeford should be focussing on the day job and should cancel his distracting vanity projects.”