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What next as record breaking 20mph Senedd petition closes?

15 Mar 2024 9 minute read
The total signatures racked up by the 20mph Senedd petition.

Emily Price

The record breaking Senedd petition calling for Wales’ new 20mph speed limit to be scrapped has closed after racking up 469,570 signatures.

A decision on whether to refer or reject the biggest Senedd petition in history is expected to be made shortly.

The controversial road regulation came into force in September last year and saw most roads in Wales that were 30mph switch to 20mph.

The number of people who signed petition calling for the 20mph default to be scrapped surpassed the number of those who voted for Labour in the 2021 Senedd election (443,047 votes).

During an interview with Nation.Cymru in September, Chair of the Petitions Committee, Jack Sargeant said that due to the high number of signatures he plans to recommend the petition for debate.

However, there is no guarantee that his request will be approved.

Following the roll out of the controversial speed limit, an investigation was launched to look at where petition signatures were coming from and if the Senedd’s system was being tampered with in any way.

There was some evidence of some small scale duplication of signatures and some rather bizarre names were recorded such as ‘Rupert the Bear’.

But overall, the majority of the signatures came from people in Wales with valid postcodes and email addresses.

‘Disastrous’

The previous most signed petition in Senedd history called for the Welsh Government to allow non-essential items to be sold during lockdown and amassed 67,940 signatures.

A spokesperson for the Petitions Committee said: “As with all petitions that receive 250 signatures or more, the Committee will write to the relevant Welsh Government Minister to get their views on the petition and will then consider that at our committee meeting after Easter.

“As a petition that has received far more than 10,000 signatures, we will also consider requesting a Senedd debate on the petition.

“Clearly there are an unprecedented number of signatures for this specific petition, and the Committee will need to reflect on that as part of our discussion of the petition.”

The record breaking petition asking the Welsh government to “rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law” was launched by Mark Baker.

When it reached the 10,000 signature milestone meaning it could be recommended for debate, Mr Baker was invited to close the petition early.

However, he was keen to let it run its course until March.

We caught up with him after he symbolically handed over the final petition to the Senedd on Wednesday (March 13).

A protest had also been organised in Cardiff Bay by an Annette Jones of the ’20 is not plenty’ Facebook group.

Mr Baker said: “I feel quite shocked that it got as many signatures as it did. I have no doubt they will ‘debate’ it, but personally I think it will only be paid lip service as they don’t want egg on their face.

“Although I did have a private conversation with Lee Waters yesterday in the Senedd, apart from trying to defend this disastrous policy, he did say that if they are wrong about this then they will have to change it.

“I’m not sure he intended to say that but he said it anyway. I personally think they will try backtracking but dress it up as a ‘considered review’.”

The 20mph petition was presented to the Senedd on Wednesday.

Expected course

Responding to this comment, the minister in charge of transport, Lee Waters said: “I did mean it. If none of the outcomes match what we expected of course there will need to be changes.

“But so far it is going as we anticipated- speeds are down, and just as everywhere else that has introduced lower speeds, we expect that to result in fewer collisions, deaths and casualties”

Labour leadership hopefuls Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles have both said the road regulation will be reviewed.

However, the Welsh Government is not expected to perform a complete U-turn on the policy and officials maintain a 20mph default speed limit will save lives and save the NHS money.

Mark Drakeford has admitted more could have been done to “prepare the ground” for Wales’ 20mph speed limits, but says he does not regret the policy.

Mr Baker said: “I think after the massive explosion of signatures as it has angered so many of us, the petition in my eyes has done what I intended it do and which is open peoples eyes to whats going on in Wales and what we must do to stop this.

“Welsh Labour had 443,047 votes in the last Senedd Election, this petition has almost 30,000 more signatures than that, I think that the next Senedd Election will look very different to the last one.”

The Welsh Conservatives have been at the forefront of campaigns to scrap the new default speed limit due to its cost.

The party has promised voters that if they were ever in power in Wales, they would axe it immediately.

Mr Baker says Welsh Tory efforts have helped the petition to gain signatures.

He said: “I was quite surprised at first, but looking into it, what Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru are calling cross party support is not what really happened.

“Welsh Conservatives did vote in favour of 20mph on roads that had schools and hospitals which most of the people that signed this petition wouldn’t argue with as that does make sense.

“However what was implemented is not what was originally voted on. I spoke to several Conservative MSs and to be quite honest they are nothing like the corrupt Conservatives in Westminster. I think that they have helped in this campaign.”

20mph protesters gathered in front of the Senedd.

‘Weaponised’

Six months on from the new default speed limit’s roll out, Mr Baker says he is still doesn’t agree with it and that compliance with the new speed limit does not mean it has been accepted by people in Wales.

He said: “My feelings have not changed in the slightest. I didnt agree with it in the first place, I still dont agree with it and I never will agree with it. Welsh Labour are pulling out stats that claim that it’s working but I haven’t seen any of the raw evidence to support this.”

In the final five months of the petition, signatures appeared to slow down significantly with new signatures increasing by less than 2% since December.

The founder of a campaign to introduce 20mph speed limits in built-up areas says the decrease in new signatures represents  “boredom” at opposition politicians attempting to “weaponise road safety”.

Rod King, campaign director of the group, ‘20’s Plenty for Us‘ said: “The petition seems to have run out of steam and when it closed the final count of Welsh signatories shows that it increased by less than 2% in the last 5 months with just 7422 new signings.

“The monthly protests turning up outside Senedd have comprised about 20 people and at the close of the petition yesterday the usual people and numbers were there, being addressed by Natasha Asghar MS, whose late father was one of the original proposers of a national 20mph default as an Assembly Member in 2018.

“This is not a sign of ‘rising anger’ but more boredom at opposition politicians attempting to weaponise road safety and community live-ability by creating a divisive culture war for the sake of a few votes.

Mr King says the roll out of the new road regulation wasn’t perfect and that some changes needed to be made by local authorities.

He added: “The fact is that Wales and the Welsh people are getting on with life at 20 in villages, town and cities across the country.

“Its not perfect and there are some 20 roads which could be set at 30 and some 30 roads that could be set at 20.

“But all of this is in the hands of local highway authorities. A national 20mph default urban/village limit has made Welsh communities better places to live, walk, learn, cycle, shop and work, whether you are a resident or a tourist. Well done Wales.”

Thanks

Shadow minister for transport, Natasha Asghar thanked those who put their name to the petition and said she will continue to fight against the the speed limit.

Responding to Mr King’s comments, she said: “Labour ministers, and 20mph cheerleader Rod King, cannot simply turn a blind eye anymore and pretend the public is on board with this ridiculous 20mph policy, which has been dreamed up by lycra-clad lobbyists.

“Not only has this petition, which gained just shy of 500,000 signatures, smashed records and made history, but it has also sent a clear message to the Welsh Government that this £33m scheme should be axed.

“I find it incredibly distasteful that Mr King saw fit to bring up my dead father, who is not here to defend himself, when all I am doing is standing up for my constituents, and the people of Wales, who feel let down and ignored by this Labour Government.

“If my late father was alive today and could see the damage this policy is poised to inflict on our country, I have no doubt he would never have backed it in the first place as his number one priority was creating a fair, prosperous and better Wales – something this policy, and all of Labour’s other failures when it comes to our NHS and education, does not achieve. Clearly Mr King did not know him as well as he thinks.

“I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has stood up and made their voices heard. Rest assured, the fight to have this blanket 20mph policy spiked goes on!”


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karl
karl
26 days ago

Petitions from foreign countries are pointless.

TomTom82
TomTom82
25 days ago
Reply to  karl

What size tin foil hat do you wear?

Jeff
Jeff
23 days ago
Reply to  karl

Raises the issue that why bother with a party manifesto at any election. Vote for the colour of the tulip they wear or something.

No point having a manifesto because what people may vote for is overturned by a system open to abuse, the petition.

Certainly if Labour row this back because of the petition then they will open the flood gate for any policy the Tory party want to game to get the troops out to sign a petition and Labour have shown they are fickle when it comes to serious policies.

No to 20mph
No to 20mph
26 days ago

They’ll do exactly as they have done, continue to ignore it and reject any motion to abolish the ridiculous policy.
And with any luck voters will ignore and reject them in the upcoming election, couldn’t run a bath let alone a country.

Brian Hinks
Brian Hinks
24 days ago
Reply to  No to 20mph

Absolutely quite agree 👍 i hope 🙏 everyone will think the same and REMOVE this UNEDUCATED AND ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA HOW TO RUN A COUNTRY. LABOUR ADMINISTRATION.

Alwyn
Alwyn
26 days ago

So the Tories will reject the 20 mph ‘blanket’. But what will they put in its place? We haven’t heard a peep about that! Or will they replace it with a smaller blanket? Or a handkerchief? Or maybe even a figleaf?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
26 days ago
Reply to  Alwyn

The Welsh Tories do seem to have a bit of a thing for blankets. If Mark Baker thinks that the Welsh Tories are better and ‘less corrupt’ than their Westminster counterparts, he’s seriously deluded. It’s only the constraints imposed on them by the Senedd that keeps them on the straight and narrow, and even then, they’re constantly in danger of going astray.

Blinedig
Blinedig
26 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Agree your comments, even though there is no such creature as a Welsh Tory.

Rob
Rob
25 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

So if you disagree with this vanity project, you must be a Tory. Typical labour mind set.

Vance Grffiths
Vance Grffiths
26 days ago

It’s quite interesting that there’s always a mention of people signing the petition who don’t live in wales. Neither does Rod King but he seems to get plenty of colomn inches.

Jeff
Jeff
26 days ago

“valid post codes and email addresses”, yeah, we have this thing called the internet. I can find post codes from many places in Wales and many email services you can get a lot of email addresses. I would like to see w deeper dive into the info, but data protection will probably mean we don’t see it. The sheer numbers vs the distinct lack of people out protesting when you compare to 15k for the farmers and they had a massive turn out.

Maybe they did sign it.

Iago
Iago
25 days ago

Imagine wanting to sell your country out to the Tories so you can drive 10 miles faster some of the time. Absolute cretins

TomTom82
TomTom82
25 days ago
Reply to  Iago

Your comment is so moronic it beggars belief. The 20mph policy was put forward by a tory.

Shifter
Shifter
25 days ago
Reply to  Iago

Bring it on can’t do no worse than this leftwing communist dictatorship and i have always vote for labour never again.

Wiv
Wiv
25 days ago

They won’t debate it till after the local elections vote them out both labour and plaid cymru

Geoff Ryan
Geoff Ryan
25 days ago

According to the Irish Times Ireland will almost certainly adopt the same 30 km per hour limit in urban areas that is in place in several other countries in Europe.

PeterC
PeterC
23 days ago

I take the view that ALL politicians are deaf, blind stupid and corrupt. Nothing will happen with this petition because it is not in any politicians self interest to do anything

Dean
Dean
20 days ago

An ardent believer in devolution and the Assembly and escaping tory rule but now dismayed and despondent. Labour have been in power from day 1. Our infrastucture is shambolic. The roads,rail, buses, airport. We could have kept the bridge and dropped it to £2 to pay for development. We have a welsh government that does not plan ahead and is not listening to the people. The waste I see and self serving gravy train has increased, not stopped…. So my question is What is an Assembly, if not for representation of all the people of Wales??

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