Enforcement of the 20mph speed limit commenced on 8th January 2024 resulting in the 51 and x51 bus services becoming unwitting victims of the controversial new policy. The bus route was scrapped from 14th January, shortly after enforcement of the new speed restriction began. A spokesperson for Arriva Cymru explained the reason for the scrapping, saying that: “the service overall is taking longer to operate due to reduced speeds across the network”.
Arriva Cymru have now partially reinstated the popular bus service following public pressure, including a petition that garnered over five hundred signatures. The bus route, however, has been updated with The Tweedmill Shopping Outlet, which sits at the terminus of the bus route, having been omitted. This has led to new safety fears regarding passengers, many elderly, now alighting on a busy A-road. Member of the Senedd for the Vale of Clwyd, Gareth Davies, has previously raised the withdrawal of the popular bus route in the Senedd, and on Friday 26th January met with the managing director of Tweedmill Shopping Outlet, to discuss the impact of the axeing on the safety and wellbeing of their customers.
The managing director of Tweedmill Shopping Outlet, Lisa Johns, met with Mr Davies to discuss the impact that the withdrawal of the bus stop is having on the outlet and to convey the importance of the travel link in the community. The scaling back of the bus service has led to fears over lack of footfall for local businesses but Ms Johns informed Mr Davies that Tweedmill have concerns over safety and wellbeing, with customers no longer able to disembark in the immediate vicinity of the retail outlet. Ms Johns also relayed anecdotes from customers who have been frightened using the bus service, with drivers speeding after the 20mph limit in order to make up for lost time.
Commenting on his meeting with the Tweedmill representative, Mr Davies said:
“Whilst I welcome Arriva Cymru’s decision to reinstate the 51 and X51 bus services, I sympathise with Ms John’s disappointment at the removal of the Tweedmill Shopping Outlet stop which will jeopardise the safety of their customers. I urge Arriva Cyrmu to re-think their decision and reinstate the Tweedmill stop and review some of the other, more redundant, stops on the route.
“The Tweedmill Shopping Outlet lobbied for the addition of a bus stop at the retail centre, largely to ensure the safety of customers by unloading them in the immediate vicinity of the outlet, ensuring that elderly customers do not have to cross the busy A525 highway. The removal of the bus service will make it harder for many elderly customers to make their way to the shopping outlet safely and the testimonies we are already hearing from passengers are very concerning.
“This is a rather typical example of a half-baked Welsh Government vanity scheme, purported to improve safety, but giving rise to a whole host of other safety concerns.
“The cavalcade of damage resulting from the blanket 20mph speed limit shows little sign of slowing. The Welsh Government need to take stock of the fallout from this policy, listen to the Welsh people, and admit they got it wrong.”