20mph: Senedd Members abused over new speed limits

  • Elin Jones MS told the Senedd she and several other members has received threats and abuse

Senedd Members have received threats and abuse following yesterday's debate on the new default speed limit which has been rolled out in Wales.

The debate saw heated exchanges between members from across the chamber as the policy, and the reaction to it, was discussed.

Speaking ahead of the opening of plenary this afternoon (Wednesday), the Senedd's presiding officer revealed she and several other members have received threats and abuse which their staff have had to deal with.

Elin Jones MS said: "Overnight I've been made aware of several members, myself included, receiving abusive and threatening messages on social media, email and telephone due to their stance on this topic.

"Our staff have had to deal with much of this, this morning.

"Whilst it's encouraging to see unprecedented interest in out petitions committee and it's work, we all have a duty to ensure that public debate in Wales is measured, dignified and respectful.

As of Sunday (September 17), 30mph roads have been reduced to 20mph where cars mix with pedestrians and cyclists. It is thought around 13,000km of road will be affected.

The move has proved controversial with a poll for ITV Wales revealed last week that just 31% of people support the policy, while 66% are opposed to it.

The Welsh Government says research shows that changes will reduce pollution and fatal crashes.

A petition calling for a u-turn on the policy has become the most signed in the history of the Welsh Parliament, receiving more than 250,000 signatures.

The Llywydd reminded members about the tone they set in the Senedd and how that spills over into conversations about policy outside of the chamber.

Elin Jones said: "For us in this chamber that means setting the tone for how we expect others to express their views, whatever their stance on this matter or any other matter and that we do that in a way that does not demean or undermine any individual.

"I've received representation from one member about the conduct of another member during yesterday's proceedings and have corresponded with both individuals accordingly.

"I will conclude by asking all members to bare all of this in mind when in the chamber and, in turn, influencing how others behave outside of this chamber."

The 20mph default speed limit was a policy pledged in Welsh Labour's manifesto in the run up to the 2021 Senedd Election and has since received cross-party support.

During First Minister's Questions on Tuesday (19 September), Welsh Conservative MS Tom Giffard asked Mark Drakeford whether he would "rescind his disastrous 20mph scheme".

He replied: "No, Llywydd."

The Welsh Conservatives have thrown their support behind the petition, with one MS saying sticking with the policy will lead to people questioning democracy in Wales.

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