Wales politics

Climate protesters prompt Senedd access review

Elin Jones
Image caption Elin Jones says the right balance between public access and adequate security is needed

Security at the Welsh Assembly is being reviewed after members of the public were unable to view a debate.

The policy that only six people from a protest group can enter the building is being reconsidered by the presiding officer.

Some climate change protesters who had been demonstrating outside the building on 1 May were refused entry.

AMs voted to declare a "climate emergency", with opposition AMs demanding Welsh Government action.

Speaking this week in the Senedd, Plaid Cymru's Helen Mary Jones said the demonstration by climate change protesters outside the building had been "very good-natured and very cheerful".

"Those protesters then wished to come in to view the debate from the public gallery," she said. "The public gallery at the time was largely empty, and many of them were refused admittance to the building.

"I am not in a position to establish this one way or the other, but it was certainly the impression of some of those people that whether or not they were admitted depended on their appearance, on whether they were perceived to be respectable.

"I do not understand why there was any fear that those people who were not admitted would have been any kind of risk."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Protesters have been calling for politicians to declare a climate emergency

The Llywydd - or presiding officer - Elin Jones acknowledged that "in this case, a delegation of six was given access to the estate, but access was not allowed to other members of the group".

She added: "On the whole, we are quite successful in having that balance between security and access to all to visit our Senedd here.

"If we have got it wrong in the past, then we need to learn from that experience."

The vote on the Plaid Cymru-led debate - backed by 38 AMs, versus two against and with 12 abstentions - made the assembly the first parliament in the world to vote to declare a climate emergency.

The vote by AMs followed protests around the world.

A few days before the debate the Welsh Government declared a "climate emergency".

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