The MS for Llanelli and Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters has been defending his voting record and his policy on 20mph speed limits in Wales after coming under fire from the Welsh Conservatives for the state of public transport in Wales and his ‘cringey videos’ on social media.
Lee Waters apologised after voting the wrong way, and against his own government, three times.
The MS who is frequently acerbic in his answers to questions from members of the opposition came under fire from Welsh Conservative and failed candidate for the position of Mayor of London, Natasha Asghar.
At the Plenary of Wednesday July 5th Natasha Asghar MS challenged the Deputy Minister on his drive to change most 30mph roads in Wales to 20mph, a decision, which drew more than 21,000 signatures on one petition and significantly more on another.
The Conservative MS asked Lee Waters if he agreed that the number of people who had signed the petition outweighed the ‘few mere thousand’ who took part in the Welsh Government’s consultation.
The MS said that her inbox and social media platforms had been inundated with messages from residents across Wales thanking her and her colleagues for standing up for them, and speaking up against the latest project that the Deputy Minister has of 20 mph. Referring to a post on the social media page of Mr Waters the MS said: “Whereas it would appear the video that you posted on social media, praising your speech in the Chamber last week defending the scheme, went down like a cup of old sick. I struggled to find one supportive comment when I was trawling through my social media.”
Natahsa Asghar asked the Deputy Minister if he would ‘put his ego aside’ and eventually admit to a mistake and do a u-turn, if and when required, on this 20mph blanket ban.”
Mr Waters responded: “It is not a blanket policy.”
Natasha Asghar MS said that she was ‘shocked’ by the answer but not surprised.
Changing her line of argument to public transport in Wales Natasha Asghar questioned the Deputy Minister on areas of transport Welsh Government were ‘failing on’. She referred to recent concerts in Cardiff by big name musicians and added that she knew Mr Waters had been at one of them because of his ‘cringey videos’ he had shared of himself ‘at Coldplay’. The MS referred to ‘hellish conditions’ for rail passengers who made their way home from concerts. The Conservative MS asked the Deputy Minister: “Do you agree that our public transport network, which you are running now into the ground, seriously hampers our ability to hold these major, world-class events?”
The Deputy Minister said that he did not agree because the evidence showed that performers are still coming to Cardiff and are still widely appreciated. He said: “It is a simple fact of physics that when you have 70,000 people in one place, all trying to leave at the same time, there is going to be congestion and queuing. That is true of any sports stadium or mass event stadium anywhere in the world. I’d love to hear any practical suggestions Natasha Asghar has for managing that in a different way; we are all ears. There were extra services put on by both Great Western and Transport for Wales. It’s regrettable that there were uncomfortable conditions.
“As you know, we have a radical programme of renewal and investment in trains—over £800 million in new carriages and £1 billion in the metro project, and this is coming on-stream. And I’m looking forward to many more successful events in the stadium and elsewhere.”
Natasha Asghar MS was unrelenting in her challenge on the record of the Deputy Minister and pointed out that it was not only transport to music events but also closure of the Treherbert to Pontypridd line, and the replacement bus services. She said: “These people are being put through hell on a daily basis, and they feel the man responsible for Transport for Wales is turning his back on them. But should we really be surprised? It turns out you cannot even perform a basic task like voting the right way, Deputy Minister, so how on earth can we expect you to deal with the issues of the day? Deputy Minister, what do you say to those who are having to endure this horrific service, and what will you do to end this misery going forward?”
The Deputy Minister responded: I’ve asked the Member before for her engineering suggestions of how else we completely overhaul the railway line without closing it. I’ve not had any answers, but there’s still time to submit those thoughts. I fear it is inevitable, and many of the people in the area understand that the dislocation and inconvenience will result in better services, and, obviously, in the meantime it is deeply unpleasant for many and I completely understand that, which is why we’re working with Transport for Wales to get the work completed as soon as is practically possible, and I’m confident the service that people will receive after that will be of a completely different magnitude.”