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Closure of Menai Bridge ‘outrageous’ while expanding the Senedd says Penny Mordaunt

27 Oct 2022 6 minute read
Penny Mordaunt (CC BY 2.0). Menai Bridge Anglesey. Photo by Nick Cozier on Unsplash.

The Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt has said that the closure of the Menai Suspension Bridge, while the Senedd is being expanded from 60 to 96 members, is “outrageous”.

Speaking today she said that it was “another example of the Welsh Labour Government’s deprioritising the people of north Wales”.

The Menai Suspension Bridge linking the island to the mainland was shut suddenly last Friday, with the Welsh Government stating that emergency maintenance work was required to fix a structural issue.

The closure of the almost 200-year-old bridge designed by Thomas Telford has led to large tailbacks on both sides of the Menai Strait as cars must use the one remaining Brittania bridge. It could now be closed until early next year.

On Tuesday the Deputy Climate Change Minister, Lee Waters said that a third crossing could cost £400m and take seven years to build.

Today, the House of Commons today Penny Mordaunt answered a question by Anglesey’s Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie who said that expanding the Senedd would cost £100m.

“Yet Welsh Labour Government continue to deprioritise north Wales: the sudden closure of the Menai bridge last Friday, with no warning, will bring months of chaos to my constituents,” Virginia Crosbie MP said.

“Does the Leader of the House agree that the Welsh Labour Government should be prioritising the maintenance of key transport links, not increasing the number of politicians?”

Penny Mordaunt answered: “My honourable friend is right, and this is another example of the Welsh Labour Government’s deprioritising the people of north Wales.

“I heard about the bridge closure, which is outrageous, but she is doing everything she should in her work on getting a freeport and on championing nuclear power and infrastructure to support that industry.”

‘Significant’

On Tuesday Ynys Môn Senedd Member Rhun ap Iorwerth today called on the Welsh Government to act quickly to ensure that the bridge is re-opened at the earliest opportunity, and to proceed with the construction of a mooted third bridge over the Menai.

But Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, who is responsible for roads said that a third bridge would not provide an answer in the near future.

“It would cost somewhere in the order of £400 million,” he said. “That’s the current estimate.

“So, it’s a significant decision to make and investment to make. As you know, it’s been reviewed as part of the roads review panel, along with all other schemes in Wales, and we’ll also be asking the Burns review in north Wales to look at what contingencies could be put in place in the short term.

“Even were we to start to build it now, the process takes somewhere around seven years. These things are expensive and slow. So, we will be asking Burns to address the issue of resilience in the longer term, and that report will be available next year.”

Lee Waters added that there were also shorter-term contingency plans being drafted, and initial options in this plan include the options to:

  • increase park-and-ride facilities,
  • create potential stacking site options
  • review the rail use to and from the island.

Ynys Môn Senedd Member Rhun ap Iorwerth however said that he was particularly concerned about the impact of the closure on emergency services.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of closing the Menai bridge on my constituents,” he said.

“There are three main things to consider – firstly, steps being taken to keep traffic flowing and to mitigate the risks that arise. Secondly, how was this allowed to happen in the first place and how do we find the first way to reopen safely? And thirdly what will be the response to this in order to ensure resilience in the long term?

“We must hear about concrete measures being taken to respond to the situation urgently – this includes ensuring that emergency services have access to and from the island, and that key staff can get to their place of work swiftly, and safely.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth added: “We need a new crossing as I have called for over the years for exactly this purpose – to ensure resilience in our transport infrastructure.

“A three-lane system during ‘peak flow’ was considered, but government officials ultimately decided that the bridge was too narrow for that. It may be possible to look at implementing something like that temporarily now, but the truth is that a permanent, durable solution is needed.

“It’s one thing to be an island, it’s another thing to be isolated. And that is the reality that has now been exposed. I am looking forward to a commitment to urgently resume the work of developing the new crossing.”

The Menai Suspension Bridge. Photo Welsh Government

‘North and south’

Conservative Transport Spokesperson Natasha Asghar said in the Senedd on Tuesday that it was important that the Menai bridge “which is a vital artery” was reopened as soon as possible.

“I firmly believe that this fiasco further highlights the Welsh Government’s neglect of north Wales and shows there is still a major divide between the north and the south,” she said.

She added: “Motorists are now expected to use the Britannia bridge while the Menai is closed. This is simply not going to work, Deputy Minister, especially now as we’re heading into winter, when the Britannia bridge is regularly closed due to high winds.

“What happens if the Britannia bridge is forced to close while the Menai is closed?”

Lee Waters replied that they responded to the need to close the bridge as soon as they were told about concerns about its safety.

“And as I explained, we could have waited till the end of the weekend and given advance notice that the bridge would be closing on Monday, but, on reflection, we thought that would be imprudent; had something happened, that would have been unforgivable,” he said.

“And given the weight of the advice we were getting from the structural engineers, it was clearly the right thing to do to act immediately, in the full knowledge this would cause distress and inconvenience, which we deeply regret, but we felt this was the responsible thing to do.”


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David
David
29 days ago

So, the House of Lords has NOT been increased!!

Frank
Frank
28 days ago
Reply to  David

Did you mean the House of Rich Parasites?

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
28 days ago
Reply to  David

The Senedd will be increased…at a huge cost…

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
28 days ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

Lots of anti-everyone contributors on here tonight. The canon fodder of the Welsh left…

hdavies15
hdavies15
27 days ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

Speak for yourself pal. Dismissing everything contrary to your views as “leftie” or nazi or fascist is a pretty poor attitude and displays a lack of depth of thought.

Stuart Davies
Stuart Davies
26 days ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

Drakeford will now need more of YOUR money to keep these new extra public parasites.
The more people getting on the Drakeford gravy train gives him more confidence to squeeze more blood from the public.

Frank
Frank
29 days ago

Says a loser. It’s okay to spend hundreds of billions on renovating the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, HS2, 25 more peers, redundancy payments to ministers who still have jobs, etc. etc.

The original mark
The original mark
29 days ago

So, structural engineers advise the Welsh government the the bridge is possibly unsafe to use, the government make a very difficult decision based on safety for the users and the tories call it outrageous. Since when has it been outrageous to put the general publics safety first, I know it might be a bit of a novelty to your average tory. Scum, the lot of them

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
28 days ago

The irony being that the company from Hull that actually closed the bridge is working to a contract issued by UK Highways A55 Ltd of Swanley, Kent which is in turn owned by a private equity city firm operating under a PFI deal issued by the Westminster government and not the Senedd.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
29 days ago

I really hope that closing the bridge doesn’t keep the current MP there even longer!

Julie Jones
Julie Jones
29 days ago

It is outrageous that we have an in-out-in Home Secretary who is known across Westminster as Leaky Sue. Perhaps Penny M can reflect on that.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
29 days ago

Therefore expanding the unelected chamber at Westminster while cutting funding for public services is abhorrent. They have no humility whatsoever! The gall of these people!!

Arwyn
Arwyn
29 days ago

These Tories love a wedge issue. I can hear the dogs barking …

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

If only there was a way of drastically reducing the lorry traffic between Dublin and Holyhead…Penny M does have a gravity problem, what’s with her and Virginia…Teddy Girls picking on the Bay City High Rollers…sounded like two short planks to me and I wish Lee would say something helpful for a change. It must have been someone’s job to anticipate such a likely event and the trouble it would cause and have a plan B, they have had twenty odd years to think about it…

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

“ If only there was a way of drastically reducing the lorry traffic between Dublin and Holyhead…”

Err… hasn’t Brexit already ensured it?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  Argol fawr!

My little joke…

Donna OBrien
Donna OBrien
29 days ago

I’m failing to see the link between spending on more Senedd Members and fixing a bridge..can’t both be done? Quite a daft dig from Mordant and the rest of the incompetents to be honest.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago

Oh I’m so disgruntled that I’m not the Prime Minister, I’m going to attack someone. Yes I know, I’ll attack the Welsh. With the help of my friend, we’ll sew division pitting north against south and demand the pugnacious little trolls keep using a dangerous bridge so they’ll all fall into the Menai Straits. Those who are left will have reduced representation in our Parliament and we’ll continue to keep theirs small so it is easier for us to erode their democracy until we have eradicated it altogether. If SHE won’t say what she means, I’ll do it for her… Read more »

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
29 days ago

What about all the billions the UK has lost over the few weeks that Liz Truss was in power? Huge amount of money

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
29 days ago

Plunging the whole UK into austerity is outrageous when adding another 100 Tory “lords” to the unelected second house and gifting about £10m to sacked government ministers.
Stay in your lane MoreDunce

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
29 days ago

Nonsense again from a tory.

Gareth
Gareth
29 days ago

Ms Mordaunt was “fed” a question by MP Ms Crosbie. The fact that neither know who closed the bridge, and the depts relationship to the Senedd, must be taken into account. They only enhance the reputation of not knowing what they are talking about.

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago

Does Penny Dormant know where the Menai Bridge is? Does Penny Dormant know anything? Last time of checking she wasn’t sure what a woman is or was, given she’s one of those who wants to change definitions to suit fashionable thinking. Perhaps it a case of similar confusion over how bridges function.

Frank
Frank
29 days ago

Take no notice. She is a failure and is very bitter and now seeks attention. Just go away mordaunt. You’re surplus to requirements.

Tanwg
Tanwg
29 days ago

It’s outrageous that this right wing tori has the gall to comment given their lack of funding for Cymru and their unelected 2nd chamber of 800+.

Frank
Frank
28 days ago

Before this loser passes judgement she should look at the shambles she and her colleagues have created in westminster. Until that is sorted I suggest she minds her own business.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
28 days ago

What is expanding the Senedd to do with the Menai Bridge issues? Political failure Penny Mordaunt conveniently forgets that the Houses of Parliament is currently being renovated at a purported cost of £22 billion. And don’t forget, all this is during the cost of living crisis, not to mention all the new Tory members of the House of Lords which have bloated their figures to 253.Yes, that’s 163 more members that our Senedd Cymru which is currently only 60. Oh and where’s the funding promised by her ex-PM Boris Johnson who in 2019 visited Newport after his election win by… Read more »

R W
R W
28 days ago

So, what exactly have the Tories done for north Wales over the last twelve years? Or any other part of Wales for that matter!!??
Precisely nothing as far as I can see, apart from making us poorer and depriving us of money that should be coming our way.

Karl
Karl
28 days ago

Parliament refurb, Johnsons crony new Lords. She should just shut up now. Before anyone mentions hs2, the missing EU money and the fake levelling up scheme

stuart stanton
stuart stanton
28 days ago

At least it will compromise that appalling bigmouth MP Jake Berry from reaching his ‘holiday home’ on Ynys Món without being held up. Wasn’t he the one who complained the neighbours there were ignoring him during Covid lockdown?

George Thomas
George Thomas
28 days ago

We can acknowledge she’s saying something stupid, but we can also see the issues the Tories are trying to use to win votes in Wales.

The Senedd needs expanding but through this there needs to be focus on areas outside of Cardiff, especially west and the north.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
28 days ago

Do the two things have to be mutually exclusive?

And sorry, but how dim do you have to be to demand the re-opening of a bridge when it has been indicated that it is unsafe??

Henry Harris
Henry Harris
28 days ago

Be aware that this tabloid removes legitimate comments from welsh born conservative voting. Anti welsh language apartheid but not anti welsh language commentators. Once again how many undocumented, unaudited billions of pounds of sterling have been blatantly wasted on the welsh language enforcement since approximately 1963? For translation services that hardly no one currently uses? Do they totalitarian enforce and promote the Gaelic language upon everyone within the non principality, independent nation of Eire? I wonder why the Republic of Ireland is one of the richest independent countries within Europe? Whilst the western regions in particular of our non independent… Read more »

Frank
Frank
28 days ago
Reply to  Henry Harris

Know-all plonker

Erisian
Erisian
28 days ago

Auditioning for the post of non-sequitur of state for Wales

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
27 days ago

Sorry for exposing my amnesia, but which Welsh Constituency does Penny Mordant represent? It is nice of her to be thinking of Welsh residents, but one wonders just how full her inbox is of complaints from the latter.

Quornby
Quornby
24 days ago

Silly moo

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