Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Watch: Outgoing transport minister quizzed in final fiery 20mph row

20 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Natasha Asghar and Lee Waters in their final standoff

Emily Price

The outgoing minister in charge of Wales’ 20mph default speed limit has been embroiled in a blazing final row with his Tory rival in the Senedd.

Outgoing Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters announced his intention to step down from the role two weeks ago.

After the Easter recess he will return to Labour backbenchers as Member of the Senedd for Llanelli.

His last day coincides with Vaughan Gething being elected Wales’ First Minister.

Mr Waters was instrumental in implementing Wales’ controversial 20mph policy which was rolled out in residential areas in September.

In the Senedd on Wednesday (March 20), the deputy minister went head to head for one final time with shadow transport minister, Natasha Asghar.

Scrutiny

The final stand off between the pair crescendoed to a blazing row in which the Senedd’s Deputy Presiding Officer was forced to intervene on several occasions.

During the clash, Ms Asghar described him as a “patronising politician” whilst he hit back saying he wouldn’t miss being quizzed by her.

Mr Waters has been the Welsh Government’s minister for climate change since 2021.

He maintains that the 20mph policy will reduce speeds, reduce collisions, save lives, and improve local neighbourhoods.

Mr Waters said: “I think there are a number of areas where we could legitimately be tested and challenged, and I welcome challenge.

“Instead, we have a regular rant, designed for social media, which does nothing to scrutinise, populated by sneers and personal derogatory remarks, which I think is beneath this Chamber. But I’ve now given up expecting any better.

Ms Asghar has been at the forefront of Welsh Conservative calls for the new default speed limit to be axed.

Mr Waters accused the Tories of “sneering” at bold decisions to tackle climate change.

A record breaking petition calling for the new road regulation to be scrapped was handed in to the Senedd last week after amassing almost half a million signatures.

Mr Waters said the petition was “riddled with inaccuracies” based on misinformation spread by the Tories who were “telling lies” about Welsh Government policies.

‘Crying hate’

He said: “I wish she would ban lying. I wish she would reflect on the contribution she makes to crying hate towards politicians when she contributes to a poisonous culture of language and misinformation. I think that is appalling.”

Shouting broke out in the Senedd as the Deputy Presiding Officer warned the outgoing minister to think about the language he was using.

He encouraged Mr Waters to withdraw some of his comments.

Mr Waters replied: “The tone and nature of the contributions contribute to a personalising of this debate, which then fuels online campaigns, which are fuelled by the misinformation that Natasha Asghar continues to put out, and that has consequences for each of us.

“I won’t withdraw, I’m afraid, because I have faced the direct consequence of that. This is a controversial and contentious policy, and, over time, I think it will be proven to be the right one.”

Ms Asghar said she was “disgusted” with the deputy minister’s comments saying: “The fact that you’ve blamed me for hate—are you actually joking?”

The Deputy Presiding Officer intervened again as shouting continued in the Chamber.

Ms Asghar said: “Your policy is delivering a £9 billion blow to our economy, slowing people down and costing £33 million to implement.

“You’re introducing congestion charges, which are going to be looming over people’s heads, squeezing even more money out of people at a time when they are already having to tighten their belts.

“Banning road building in Wales, regardless of what your colleagues may say, is denying communities of much-needed infrastructure and making Wales a less attractive place to do business.”

‘Lies’

Mr Waters responded saying “continually repeating misinformation, false information and lies” in the Chamber is something to be ashamed of.

He said: “This is not a blanket policy. We have not banned road building. We are not shovelling money into Transport for Wales.

“We are funding an upgrade for the first time since Victorian times in the most populous part of Wales to create a turn-up-and-go service, which her party supported.

“There are plenty of things where there is honest debate to be had and a record to be properly scrutinised, which is the job of this Senedd. She has never partaken in any serious scrutiny. She just stands up and gives abuse.”

The Deputy Presiding Officer ended the fiery exchange saying he would be reviewing the comments of the deputy minister and the shadow minister.

He said: “I think it is important what the Deputy Minister said. It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that our tone and our language is respectful of everyone, not just in this Chamber, but outside this Chamber as well, so that our conduct is not being used as a means for others to attack representatives, whether it’s in this Chamber, or even in council chambers and elsewhere.

“It is an important responsibility we all have in our contributions. For the record, I will also note and review what has been said this afternoon and will get back to all involved.”

Concerns

Speaking to Nation.Cymru, Natasha Asgahr said: “The Labour Transport Minister’s time in government will forever be defined by his collaboration with anti-motorist lobbyists in the creation of the blanket 20mph speed limit policy.

“Typical of a Labour Minister, he has been dismissive of people’s concerns from the get-go and his arrogance has further alienated people across Wales.

“The Welsh Conservatives are clear, this policy has been rejected by the Welsh people, and should be scrapped urgently.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
23 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Glwyo
Glwyo
29 days ago

Naturally the cynical Tory, roleplaying as champion of the working man, frames even modest measures to make living without a car possible as an attack on the poor. It’s the only trick they have left. Don’t look behind the veil of autotopia though, where the only mobility choices available to the poor are which subscription vehicle they’ll rent and which congested back streets they’ll spend hours idling on.

Frank
Frank
29 days ago

Member of the Senedd for Llanelli!! God help Llanelli.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
29 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Llanelli? I thought he was a MS representing Cardiff South and Penarth.

Frank
Frank
29 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Read the report above. Quote: “After the Easter recess he will return to Labour backbenchers as Member of the Senedd for Llanelli.”

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
28 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Frank, I know which constituency he represents, it was an attempt at humour.

Frank
Frank
28 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Sorry, I’m a bit slow today. Didn’t get much sleep last night.

Frank
Frank
28 days ago
Reply to  Frank

I see Lee’s got his mates to vote me down.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago

Presumably, the Deputy Speaker has a problem with Mr Waters’ use of the word ‘lies’ but he must address Ms Asghars’ lies also which are ‘Banning road building in Wales’ (three town bypasses evidence this) and ‘Blanket’. Furthermore and regardless of his irrational rantings since, she cannot deny the picture of her boss Mr Blanket holding a ‘20s plenty’ sign clearly supporting the policy. Very inconvenient.

A.Redman
A.Redman
29 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

There is a difference when members in the chamber use the word “lies” and comments that some would disagree with.As in the UK parliament it is NOT allowed and the comment has to be withdrawn.Refusing to do so is not an option.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago
Reply to  A.Redman

I agree with you. As someone who accepts the rules as they stand, the use of the words lie, lies and lying are not permitted and Lee Waters may well be required to withdraw the use of the term ‘telling lies’. He could have used ‘telling untruths’ and remained in the clear whilst remaining accurate.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
29 days ago

More negativity from Welsh Tory Natasha Asghar. She’s like a rain cloud. Depressing and wet. Coincidentally , I had the misfortune of watching her the other day on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show attacking again the 20 mph default speed limit and Wales. Part of the panel was Plaid’s Rhun ap Iorwerth who unlike Ashgar had Wales back where she preferred to stick the knife in. She stated how bad our education system & Welsh NHS was compared to England and how everything English was a rose garden. What I found very amusing was when she tried & failed to… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Yes you did digress and badly too. No need at all to tar Feyi Waboso with the same brush as you applied to the Tory A.S. who peddles division and hatred. You citing of IFW as a “cuckoo” is of itself borderline racist especially when you consider that he was rather overlooked not once but twice when he was seeking a university place despite exceptional grades yet snubbed by the so called Welsh School of Medicine. As far as we can see no attempt to secure a local place of study was made by WRU, Cardiff Rugby or even the… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Any more covert racists on here ? Come on, this negative score is pathetic, there must be at least 10 of you out there.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
29 days ago

My lasting memory of his time as deputy minister for climate change was a 20 mph media shoot, with him hands in pockets lumbering across a road with children following behind him. He looked like a modern day Pier Piper of Hamelin.

Mandi A
Mandi A
29 days ago

A good day for Wales then, Waters under the (3rd) bridge

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
29 days ago

I have never heard a positive contribution from natasha asghar, just misinformation and lies.

It’s a shame the video in the article came to an end when it did as it seemed as if Delyth Jewell was going to say that it had been a pleasure for her to shadow the minister.

Charles
Charles
29 days ago

She reminds me of Priti Patel, a very nasty Tory, who is in it for her career not the people she is meant to represent.

TJ
TJ
29 days ago
Reply to  Charles

None of the Labour am’s are representing the people, unless you have money to buy them.

Why vote
Why vote
29 days ago

Roll on the next senedd election voters in wales won’t forget when they still crawl to work in their cars with speed cameras at every corner and pay as you go on the motorway and in the city’s.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
29 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

Really?

What speed cameras?

What motorway charges?

And by the way, the 20mph limit only applies to roads that were formerly 30mph, it is not a ‘blanket’ policy at all, only idiots believe tory propaganda such as that.

Why vote
Why vote
29 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Law’s were passed last year by the senedd to allow for congestion charges low emission zones and motorway charging. But as was made clear at the time ” they never want to use them”. Propaganda is 470000 votes against 20mph and all the postcodes were in England. Drivers are conforming to 20 everywhere, The labour party believes in independence for wales.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
29 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

Yeah OK boomer.

S D L
S D L
27 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

Liar. You can check the postcodes on the petition itself. Over 90% were Welsh, the rest were people who have to drive or work here in Wales, who have the right to vote against it. Labour is finished in Wales.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.