FIRST minister Mark Drakeford has taken to the airwaves to defend the introduction of the 20mph speed limit for urban areas in Wales.

The new limit has come in for incandescent criticism from some quarters - with a protest even being planned to block the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge.

Despite this, Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast that drivers will be allowed to “get used” to widespread 20mph limits from Sunday before enforcement begins.

“I anticipate that there will be a number of weeks while people get used to a change of this sort," he said.

"It is a major change. It will need time to bed in.

“It is not a change that is being introduced in order to make life difficult for people and therefore the enforcement authorities will approach it in that way.

“The approach will be a reasonable one in which we give people a chance to get used to the new regime."

However, Mr Drakeford did say that people who "flagrantly and deliberately are not prepared to obey the rules that everybody else will be following" will be a "different matter".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Drakeford cited a similar speed limit cut in Spain, which reduced road deaths in urban areas by a fifth, with cyclist fatalities down by 34 per cent.

He said: “Driving more slowly in built up urban areas saves people’s lives.”

“I think the evidence is incontrovertible. It’s why we had this in the Labour Party manifesto at our election in 2021.”

He also defended the increase to journey times as "not an unfair bargain" when weighed agains saving lives.

“Even if it’s going to take you a minute longer to make your journey, we will save 10 people’s lives in Wales every year as a result of that one minute contribution that you are making," he said.

“It doesn’t seem a bad or unfair bargain.”