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A Welsh government minister has survived a vote of no confidence amid significant opposition to a default 20mph speed limit in the country.

The Welsh government’s deputy climate change minister, Lee Waters, survived the vote by 42 to 16.

The 20mph default speed limit was introduced on residential roads in Wales on 17 September.

A petition calling for the default limit to be scrapped has gained more than 400,000 signatures.

The Welsh government says it will save lives and make communities safer.

Councils can make some roads exempt from the new restrictions, in line with the needs of their relevant communities.

The Welsh Conservatives – the largest opposition party in the Senedd – previously described it as a “madcap policy”.

The debate surrounding the policy has become increasingly polarised in recent weeks, with the presiding officer (Llywydd) of the Senedd saying she and other members had received threatening and abusive messages.

Last week, the Conservatives announced they would be tabling a motion of no confidence in Mr Waters.

He was the minister tasked with the rollout of the policy, which featured in the Labour Party’s manifesto ahead of the 2021 Senedd election.

Conservative MS for South Wales region Natasha Asghar, the first woman of colour to be elected into the Senedd, outside the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff Bay, Wales.
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Picture by: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images
Date taken: 12-May-2021
Image:
Natasha Asghar

‘Pet project’

The Welsh Conservatives’ shadow transport minister, Natasha Asghar, said people in Wales “do not want the Labour party’s 20mph pet project”.

“For me and many others, this 20mph scheme really is the straw that broke the camel’s back and I’m afraid it’s time for you to go before you cause any more unnecessary damage,” she said.

The Labour member for Caerphilly, Hefin David, said Senedd members had received “some awful abuse” and the Welsh Conservatives’ debate was “perpetuating that”.

He added members had been made to feel “uncomfortable in [their] own homes”.

Plaid Cymru’s Delyth Jewell said there had been “real problems” with how the default speed limit was implemented but said she hoped the Welsh Conservatives would turn their back on a “path of populism”.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Jane Dodds, said debates like these would serve to “personalise politics” and made political life “even more difficult” for Senedd members.

In response to the debate, Mr Waters said it was “very difficult to get the balance right” on the policy but said data showed people in Wales were supporting the change by slowing down.

He added the average delay to journey times was less than one minute.

“I recognise the strength of feeling that is against the change in the speed limit,” he said.

“The number of people who’ve signed the petition speaks for itself and we certainly take it seriously.”

Read more:
Why is the default speed limit changing to 20mph in Wales?
Senedd’s most popular petitions as call to scrap 20mph breaks record

Mr Waters added that he understood many people were “angry and frustrated”.

“My message to the more than 400,000 people who’ve 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.”

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