THE Welsh Government has been lambasted for the “most ridiculous reason” used to justify reducing the speed limit on a stretch of the A40 dual carriageway in Monmouthshire.
A temporary 18-month order has been approved to lower the limit from 70mph to 50mph between Raglan roundabout and the Hardwick roundabout at Abergavenny due to a defective safety barrier.
Ministers in Cardiff Bay argue that the order, which came into force on 12 September 2023, is necessary because of the “likelihood of danger to the public”.
But local MP David Davies said steel barriers “don’t suddenly lose their integrity” and it was yet another example of Welsh Labour’s “war on motorists by stealth”.
“The A40 is a very wide and straight dual carriageway with good visibility,” said Mr Davies.
“Lowering the speed limit to 50mph doesn’t make any sense when the national speed limit on single carriageways, which do not have a central reservation to separate opposing flows of traffic, is 60mph.
“Quite frankly, it’s the most ridiculous reason. Safety barriers don’t just crumble away at a given date or suddenly lose their integrity.
“As you are driving from Abergavenny to Raglan, the 50mph signs don’t appear straightaway and vehicles continue to speed along at 70mph. I also spotted a sign by The Bryn warning of pedestrians, although I have never seen anyone trying to cross the dual carriageway here in decades of using this road.
“My concern is that the Welsh Government could end up turning this temporary order into a permanent one and 50mph will be the new norm. We need an assurance that once the 18 months are up and the defective safety barrier has been repaired, the speed limit will revert to 70mph.”
Mr Davies said there was a much stronger case for lowering the speed limit between Raglan roundabout and the A449 intersection – which remains at 70mph – as pedestrians cross the A40 to visit Raglan Castle. There is also a Sustrans cycle route crossing the dual carriageway at this location.
“It’s a kick in the teeth to residents and the community council who have been campaigning for years for a 50mph limit at Raglan due to longstanding concerns about safety and the fact it is a well-known accident blackspot,” he said.
The Monmouth MP also questioned why a similar order had been made to impose a reduced 50mph speed limit on the M48 from Magor to Chepstow. Welsh Government officials state it is to “undertake works on or near the M48 motorway between Junction 23 (Rogiet) and Junction 2 (Newhouse Interchange)”.
Mr Davies added: “The exact nature of these roadworks is unclear. Constituents tell me there are no signs present indicating forthcoming roadworks, nor is there any indication that roadworks have begun or are about to commence.
“I assume there must be a rational reason for all of this, but it has not been explained.
“A lot of people are starting to think there is a deliberate Welsh Labour Government policy to drop motorways and dual carriageways down from 70mph to 50mph. But instead of coming out and saying so, ministers are finding all sorts of nebulous excuses to hide behind such as defective safety barriers and roadworks.
“It’s a war on motorists by stealth and part of Welsh Labour’s agenda to make it harder for people to drive. The 20mph debacle is a prime example of this.”