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Council Leader airs views on steel deal and Welsh Government’s 20mph limit

The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Councjl, Cllr Steve Hunt

Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, Cllr Steve Hunt, expressed his views at the authority’s monthly meeting on October 4th, 2023, on the UK Government’s deal with Tata Steel UK to decarbonise its Port Talbot plant and the Welsh Government’s controversial 20 mph speed limit.

On the Tata Steel deal, he said: “On 15th September, Tata and the UK Government jointly announced proposed investment in the company’s plant at Port Talbot.

“The proposal would see half a billion pounds invested by the UK Government with Tata providing a further £750m. The investment would fund the replacement of the existing blast furnaces with state of the art electric arc furnace steelmaking.

“I understand that consultation is currently taking place between the company and the trade unions.

“The steel industry is fundamental to our local economy, to the wider economy and national security.

“While I welcome the news it is proposed to continue to make steel at Port Talbot and that operations will be decarbonised, the number of jobs at risk is of great concern.

“We have already engaged with the Welsh and UK governments and the company but do not as yet have the full details of the transition that is being proposed.

“We will want to secure a clear commitment to the long term regeneration of Port Talbot while also working to support those directly impacted by any change that takes place. There must be a just transition.”

Regarding the 20mph limit he added “On 17th September, the Welsh Government implemented a default speed limit of 20 mph on restricted roads across Wales.

“It is fair to say that this policy has attracted considerable public debate.

“The Welsh Government’s policy intent is to reduce the number and severity of casualties and collisions, to enable more people to use active travel, to reduce environmental impacts and to improve quality of life.

“£3.729m was made available by Welsh Government to implement the policy change over two financial years.

“It is important to note that the guidelines provided by Welsh Government to make exceptions to the 20mph policy are prescriptive. All exceptions put forward by councils were vetted by Transport for Wales before they could be implemented.

“Recent ministerial statements appear now to acknowledge that it is local highways authorities that are best placed to determine the application of speed limits, although any revision of changes introduced as part of the policy are not yet supported by additional funding.

“While the full impact of this policy change will emerge over the next six months, it is clear that it is having widespread impacts across the county borough – both positive and negative. Officers are actively reviewing the changes that have been required and will make further revisions where desirable.”