REVEALED: Facebook groups opposing 20mph speed limit in Wales are being run by English Tories

A Tory councillor in Sunderland was an admin on four of these groups

A photo of a 20mph sign

A number of Facebook groups organising opposition to the 20mph speed limit in Wales are in fact run by Tories based in England, it has been revealed. The revelations have emerged as a result of an investigation by WalesOnline reporter Will Hayward, who looked at the administrators of four Facebook groups operating as a gathering places for people opposed to the new speed limits.

New traffic rules which reduced speed limits from 30mph to 20mph on around 35 per cent of Welsh roads were brought in September 2023. The move has faced some opposition, with Tory figures campaigning hard against it.

Hayward’s study of the four Facebook groups found that one administrator of all four groups – Lyall J Reed is a Tory councillor in Sunderland. According to Hayward, “Though Mr Reed has seemingly dedicated significant energy opposing the 20mph limit in Wales, his opposition doesn’t seem to transfer to his home town. He posed for this picture where he proudly announced he had arranged an “extension of the 20mph zone”.”

Reed has since been removed as an admin of these groups after he was contacted for comment by WalesOnline. When asked for comment, he told Wales Online: “Across Wales it is clear that a blanket policy of 20mph is unpopular. In my ward I personally advocate for 20mph zones in front of schools and nurseries which are all sensible locations. There is a clear difference between targeted zones and a blanket policy.”

Other administrators of at least one of the groups Hayward looked at include a campaign manager for the North Shropshire Tories and a number of Tory campaign managers Wales.

Hayward reflected on what his findings mean. He said: “The point I am making is not that many people [aren’t] genuinely opposed to 20mph. Many are. Just that it is clear that there is an orchestrated attempt by the Conservative Party to keep fanning these flames and it is often been carried out by people outside of Wales.”

Opponents of the new speed limit often claim that the move is unpopular with the public. However, polling from last year found that 46 per cent of people in Wales support the 20mph limit, compared to 34 per cent who oppose it.

At the time when the 20mph speed limit was introduced the first minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said: “It’s going to take you a minute longer to make your journey, and we will save 10 people’s lives in Wales every year as a result of that one minute contribution – it doesn’t seem an unfair bargain”.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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