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Reporter exposes off-patch Facebook groups protesting over speed limits

Will Hayward 2024A political journalist has revealed that Facebook groups opposing the introduction of new speed limits on his patch are being “orchestrated” from hundreds of miles outside the area.

WalesOnline’s Will Hayward, pictured, looked into four Facebook groups set up in opposition to the Welsh Government’s introduction in September of a 20mph limit on many roads previously designated as 30mph zones.

He discovered that a Conservative councillor in Sunderland has been running multiple Facebook groups opposing the 20mph limit in Wales despite apparently supporting similar measures in his hometown.

Will found that Councillor Lyall Reed, an administrator on all of the groups, had no obvious links to Wales and had even posed for a picture where he proudly announced he had arranged an “extension of the 20mph zone” in part of his own ward on Wearside.

Cllr Reed was also quoted in the Sunderland Echo describing how “Conservative members were continuing to push for further measures to reduce speeding”.

Within hours of Wales Online approaching Cllr Reed about his links to Welsh Facebook groups he was removed as an admin.

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.”

Will’s investigation found other administrators on the groups also had links to the Conservative Party.

Posting on X, he wrote: “It is clear that there is an orchestrated attempt by the Conservative Party to keep fanning these flames and it is often being carried out by people outside of Wales.

“Plus these people don’t seem quite as opposed to 20mph when it is where they happen to live.

“Facebook groups have been a key place where opposition to 20mph has been fostered and often gotten very nasty with personal attacks on journalists, campaigners and politicians.”