/40 AMs vote down calls for a Second Severn Bridge name consultation

40 AMs vote down calls for a Second Severn Bridge name consultation



(Title Image: ITV Wales)

The Issue

As you might’ve heard, the Second Severn Bridge is to be re-named “The Prince of Wales Bridge” following a unilateral decision by the Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns. It was done to honour Chuck Windsor’s 70th birthday later this year (without opposition from the Welsh Government) and the Welsh Secretary believed he has “the silent majority” on his side.

The public was so enthused about it, a petition was launched against the change, protesting the lack of consultation, and has become one of the most popular public petitions in post-devolution Wales, receiving around 38,000 signatures.

The Motion

The Senedd:

  • Calls on the UK Government to hold a public consultation on the proposed renaming of the Second Severn Crossing.

Key Points

Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West)
For (the motion): Wales should have a say in what its “welcome mat” is called.

  • Forcing this decision through without consultation showed a basic lack of respect by the UK Government and is part of a wider attempt to “turn back the clock” vis-a-vis devolution.
  • The title “Prince of Wales” was taken from Wales’ murdered Royal family.
  • There are more important things to discuss, but the same can be said of the Welsh Secretary; there was no clamour for a name change from anyone.

John Griffiths AM (Lab, Newport East)
For: Names matter and tell you what something or somewhere is about.

  • Names matter because they’re symbolically important.
  • Renaming things “Principality” or after the Prince of Wales reinforces “incorrect, misleading and careless descriptions of Wales”.
  • The UK Government’s decision was “ham-fisted, wrong-headed and patronising”.

Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery)
Against: It’s none of our business.

  • It was curious to call for a consultation on something that had already been agreed with the Welsh Government.
  • It’s not a Welsh Government matter; the bridges are the UK Government’s responsibility.
  • “Prince of Wales Bridge” marks the “lifelong contribution” Prince Charles has made to Wales, he’s also a globally-recognised brand.
  • We should be talking about the benefits scrapping the Severn crossing tolls will have.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales)
Mixed views: Nobody cares.

  • This debate isn’t at the forefront of conversation “in the Dog and Duck”; there are more important subjects to discuss.
  • The monarchy is one of the unifying factors in the United Kingdom; a republican UK or republican Wales is “horrifying” – imagine President Tony Blair.
  • The majority of the people in Wales support the monarchy and there are economic benefits.
  • He wouldn’t object to the First Severn Crossing being named after a Welsh Prince.

Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central)
For: Let the people decide.

  • The Welsh Government are abdicating responsibility by saying it’s not their problem.
  • It’s not about the monarchy, but about dignity and democracy.
  • Committed republicans on Labour’s benches will likely vote against the motion because it’s always “party first, country second” with them.

Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr)
For: The name change tells us about Wales’ place in the grand scheme of things.

  • Symbols are important because they carry messages about who we are; several nations are going through the process of re-naming things to free themselves from colonialism.
  • Having something imposed on us harks back to days before devolution and before democracy.
  • The Second Severn Bridge will now become a symbol of a lack of authority, lack of a voice and a lack of democracy; only half the bridge is in England yet 100% of the power.

Welsh Government Response

Economy & Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South)

  • The bridge is owned by another government and it was a UK Government decision whether to hold a consultation or not; the Welsh Government will not ask them to reconsider.
  • We should tolerate different views on the monarchy and focus on the “good news” of scrapping of Severn crossing tolls instead.
  • The Welsh Government will launch local consultations on the naming/renaming of bridges on the trunk road network, the first ones being the Gateway Bridge in Brynmawr and the Flintshire Bridge.

Vote

The only thing of note is that John Griffiths, who’s a republican and spoke against the name change, voted with the government.


An amended version of the motion, which said the bridges were the responsibility of the UK Government and welcoming plans for local consultations on trunk road bridge name changes in Wales, was approved by 44 votes to 9 with 1 abstention.

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