Vote of no confidence in Welsh Minister behind 20mph speed limit fails
A vote of no confidence in the minister behind the introduction of Wales’ blanket 20mph speed limit has failed.
The Welsh Conservatives tabled the vote against Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, in response to the growing number of signatures on a petition calling for the Welsh Government to axe the new speed limit.
Over 400,000 people have so far signed the petition since the rollout of 20mph speed limit on 30mph roads earlier this month.
However the motion failed to gain support of the Senedd, with just 16 politicians voting in favour compared to 42 against.
The no confidence vote was branded as a “stunt’ by Labour MS Alun Davies, who said the Welsh Conservatives were not taking the debate seriously.
Plaid Cymru’s Delyth Jewell MS, said she “lives in the hope that the Conservatives will turn their back on this path of populism, which harms us all, because politics demands better.”
She added: “There is more that needs to be done—I think quickly—to address the frustration that is felt truly by lots of people.
“I think it would be helpful if the First Minister could write to councils to remind them, perhaps, of the powers they have to make exemptions for those roads where 20 mph doesn’t make sense, just as one example.
“More needs to be done to reassure people, to empower people, to listen, but there is a difference between a policy and a person.
“This is a cynical motion. It is an ugly tactic.”
Liberal Democrat MS Jane Dodds described the debate as “a really poor way to do politics”.
She added: “Debates such as these personalise politics and make political life even more difficult for us as Members.
“We must all be aware of our comments, those snide little remarks, which really get at us, and really don’t make us feel like we want to be part of this.
“We must be cautious that the Senedd is not seen to validate and embolden some voices in the public sphere to continue and to grow in their harassment and haranguing of representatives.”
However Welsh Conservative Natasha Asghar MS argued that the “20mph scheme really is the straw that broke the camel’s back” and as a result the deputy minister must resign before “causing any more unnecessary damage.”
Natasha Asghar MS said: “It’s been nearly two weeks since this Labour Government’s costly and unwanted 20 mph speed limit scheme was forced onto the people of Wales.
“In a short time, opposition to the move has exploded, with a petition calling for the £33 million project to be axed growing at an astronomical speed.
“In fact, just before standing up in front of you all in this Chamber today, more than 440,000 people have added their name to the ever-growing petition.
“To put that into perspective, you’ve all seen the figures, and I’m sure you’ve all done the maths as well, that’s more than what Welsh Labour received in the regional ballot at the 2021 Senedd elections, and it’s fast approaching the 443,000 total the party received in the constituency ballot.
“Deputy Minister, I would say the public have well and truly had their say, but because you don’t like the results and can’t bring yourself to admit you made a mistake, you are trying to discredit the petition and stick your head back into the sand.
“You are pushing ahead with this flawed policy without a care in the world for businesses, emergency services, nurses, carers and motorists, who are all going to be affected by this move.”
Darren Miller MS, Welsh Conservative, appealed to Members of the Senedd to vote in favour of the motion.
He said: “There’s obviously a lot of upset about some of the language that’s been used, and one thing I will agree with everybody on is that the sort of abuse that all of us have been exposed to on this issue—and I have to say, you want to see the abuse that’s been directed towards me and the leader of the opposition, and all of us on these benches, for the points that’s we’ve taken, including from some individuals on your benches.
“But this assertion that it’s not a blanket policy, frankly, is hogwash. Ninety-seven per cent of the 30 mph roads that were in place before this limit was introduced have been changed 20 mph routes.
“We do not table motions of no confidence lightly. We have done so given the extraordinary scale, the unprecedented scale, of the record-breaking petition that we’ve seen in Wales in recent weeks, which has demonstrated that there is overwhelming public opposition to this particular policy.
“The failure of the Government to act swiftly enough, and the Minister to act swiftly enough, I’m afraid shows that they’re not fit to be in that position, and that’s why I urge everybody to vote for the motion.”
Responding to the debate, Lee Waters MS, said he accepted the strength of feeling about the change to 20mph and said the Welsh Government are listening to the concerns of the public and those who have signed the petition
He also appealed to local authorities to take advantage of exempting roads which may not be suitable for a lower speed limit.
Lee Waters MS said: “The number of people who’ve signed the Senedd petition speaks for itself, and we certainly take it seriously. I understand that lots of people are angry and frustrated.
“My message to the more than 400,000 people who have signed the petition is simple: we are listening to what you’re saying, we understand that not everybody likes this, and we are willing to be flexible in how this is implemented in your local community.
“On streets where people and traffic mix, the evidence is very clear—that 20 mph saves lives and cuts casualties.
“And, yes, there is opposition, but there’s plenty of support, too.
“But we will be flexible in how it’s implemented, and we will continue to work with local authorities to get it right.
“I’m very pleased that the early and emerging traffic data from the first week signals that people are supporting the change by slowing down.
“And right across Wales, councils have already used those powers to make exceptions ahead of the roll-out on 17 September.
“They’ve exercised their ability to keep some roads at 30mph, which is why this is not a blanket policy, because there are roads kept at 30 mph.
“They have the powers to make those changes, and those powers remain with them to use in the light of experience. They can make changes.”
The vote of no confidence failed with only members of the Welsh Conservatives voting in favour.
Welsh Labour, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru all voted against the motion of no confidence in the deputy minister for climate change. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com