Counsel General in row over 20mph tweet
Counsel General Mick Antoniw came under attack on social media after claiming on X, formerly Twitter, that the Conservatives’ opposition to the introduction of the default 20mph limit indicated they were “happy” about people dying in road accidents.
The Pontypridd MS was responding to a message posted by Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies which said: “Tomorrow Labour will be rolling out its absurd 20mph blanket approach across Wales. This comes on the back of a ban on any new roads being built ever again & plans to charge people for driving on motorways.
“Labour won’t be happy unless we’re travelling around on horse and cart.”
Mr Davies attached to his post a photograph of the front page of the Daily Mail, which led on the speed limit row with the headline “Labour’s 20mph limit is ‘beyond insane”. The story quoted Mr Davies and stated: “Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said last year that the Welsh Government had provided ‘a blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK’.”
In response to Mr Davies’ post, Mr Antoniw wrote a message reading: “Tories so happy to see people and particularly children killed and injured on our roads. Wholly irresponsible but not surprising.”
Richard John, the Tory opposition leader on Monmouthshire County Council, quickly criticised Mr Antoniw with a post that said: “I know there’s been a heated debate about #20mph but this is beyond the pale. Surely @PrifWeinidog @WelshGovernment can’t think this is acceptable?”
The Conservatives have been seeking to portray their party as the motorist’s friend, with Labour as hostile to car drivers, introducing measures to make life more difficult and expensive for them.
The tactic paid off at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election following the resignation from Parliament of Boris Johnson, when the Tories held the seat unexpectedly.
Their victory was attributed to voter opposition to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s extension of the Ulez scheme, under which charges are imposed when more polluting cars use the roads.
A recent poll showed that Mr Khan, who will be seeking a third term as Mayor next May, is only one point ahead of the Tory candidate Susan Hall.
Meanwhile a number of organisations in Wales have signed an open letter supporting the 20mph limit.
The letter reads: “We support the Welsh Government initiative to make 20mph the default speed limit for residential and built-up areas from September 17. We praise the 20mph limit as being the huge contribution towards fairer streets and more liveable communities for all in Wales. It’s not just a road safety benefit. It also supports broader health, climate and societal goals such as helping the vulnerable to get about, improving social connection, reducing air and noise pollution, and more.
“It benefits the 513,800 children in Wales who will find walking, cycling and scooting to and from
school, friends, family or play places so much safer. And 298,519 households with no car or van, including 48% of lone parent households will gain from safer streets whilst walking or cycling. Plus the 600,000 people with concessionary travel passes who walk for at least part of their journey, often standing at the roadside, will find their mobility improved.
And research shows that over 12,133 people won’t be injured by vehicles over the next 10 years. One of them could be any reader of this article. We are grateful. 20’s Plenty for Us
The letter has been signed by Action for Children; Action Vision Zero; Brake, the road safety charity; Cardiff Cycling Campaign; Children in Wales; Wheels Cycling UK Cymru; Friends of the Earth Cymru; Natural Resources Wales; Play Wales; Living Streets Cymru; the UK Noise Association; Playing Out; Road Peace; Sport Wales; Sustrans; Campaign for Action Against Noise; and the Welsh Local Government Association.
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