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Vote of no confidence in minister Lee Waters unsuccessful

An attempt to pass a vote of no confidence in the minister responsible for implementing the new 20mph speed limit in Wales has been unsuccessful.

The Conservative motion, aimed at Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters, was decisively defeated, with 42 votes against and 16 in favour, as no other political parties supported it.

Prior to the vote, Mr. Waters acknowledged the public’s anger and frustration, stating, “We are listening.”

However, Conservative transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar urged Mr. Waters to step down, saying, he should “resign before he causes any more damage.”

The decrease in the speed limit was implemented at the beginning of this month, establishing 20mph as the standard speed limit in residential areas, as opposed to the previous 30mph. This change was a commitment outlined in the Welsh Labour manifesto.

While local councils have the option to seek exemptions, minister Lee Waters has noted that some councils are hesitant to do so due to legal considerations. The Conservative Party advocates for a reduced speed limit near locations like schools and hospitals, but not universally.

The debate in the Senedd on Wednesday evening initially began with strong emotions but gradually transitioned into a more reasoned discourse.

Ms Asghar said that Mr Waters was “pushing ahead with this flawed policy without any care for businesses, emergency services, nurses, carers and motorists”.

“In a short time opposition to the move has exploded, with a petition calling for the £33m project to be axed growing at an astronomical speed,” she said. 

“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.”

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Mr. Waters acknowledged the frustration and anger felt by many individuals saying: “My message to the more than 400,000 people who have signed a 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 and how this is implemented in your local community.” 

Mr waters made it clear that the Welsh Government will “work with local authorities to help get it right” but said that “it was never going to be perfect on day one”.

The minister stressed: “Speeds are already down and, as a result, we can expect to see fewer accidents, fewer casualties, fewer deaths, fewer tragedies, a little bit slower but a whole lot better.”