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Labour MP blasts Welsh Government decision to axe £100 million Flintshire road plan

19 Apr 2023 7 minute read
Roads protest, pictured from left, are Askar Sheibani, Chief Executive of Comtek Network Systems and chairman of Deeside Business Forum; Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, Flintshire County Councillors Ron Davies and Dave Evans and Shotton Town Council Chair Gary Cooper. Picture Mandy Jones

A senior Labour MP has launched a scathing attack on the Welsh Government’s controversial decision to axe a £100 million new road project in Flintshire.

The planned new dual carriageway, the so-called Red Route, linking major routes from the North West of England with the A55 North Wales Expressway, was one of the victims of the roads review announced by the Welsh Government’s Deputy Transport Minister Lee Waters.

Now the decision has drawn fire from Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside and a Privy Councillor, who has accused the Welsh Government of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds and putting a sticking plaster on the problems of pollution.

The new dual carriageway, linking the A494 from Merseyside and the A550, bringing traffic from the M56, with the A55 at Northop, would have reduced traffic by over 50 per cent on the notorious Aston Hill pinch-point where high levels of exhaust pollution have forced the authorities to reduce the speed limit to 50mph.

Massive disappointment

Mr Tami slammed the Welsh Government and said: “This is a massive disappointment and not only for business but my primary concern is for the air and noise pollution for people who live here.

“These pollution levels are only going to get worse and while building new roads is never going to be easy, we have had years and years of reviews and we finally came up with the Red Route and that should have been carried through.

“We now have another review looking at God knows what so I hope that sense will prevail but even if it does, years and years have been wasted along with hundreds of millions of pounds.

“When traffic on this road backs up drivers start going on rat runs through the towns and that has safety implications so we need to continue to press the Welsh Government for a change.

“The fact is their roads review has implications for large areas of Wales and people are now starting to wake up to the fact that it’s really a no new roads policy.

“They can talk about a commitment to public transport but we have one of the highest travel to work by car rates in the UK and that’s because public transport just isn’t there.

“We want the Welsh Government to look again at their decision because I believe it’s the wrong decision – these things need to be thought through for the long term because decisions like dropping the speed limit to 50mph are just putting a sticking plaster on the problem.”

Expert panel

The then Minister for Transport, Ken Skates, AM for Clwyd South, had announced the Welsh Government’s commitment to the Red Route in 2017 but in February Mr Waters reversed that decision following the findings of an expert review panel which assessed 59 road projects across Wales.

Only 15 will now go ahead as originally planned, all in South Wales, with the rest, including all those in North Wales, rejected or substantially revised.

The decision incensed local Labour councillors with Gary Cooper, the Chair of Shotton Town Council, saying: “Flintshire County Council have done a test on the levels of air and noise pollution here and say they are within the legal limits but that’s unacceptable – who sets these boundaries?”

He was backed by the Labour county councillors for Shotton East and Higher, David Evans and Ron Davies with Councillor Davies saying: “They know there is pollution here – at one time they wanted to build a nine-metre wall along this road.

“There’s massive congestion. There are 65,000 vehicles a day using this road and there must be more at weekends.

“Welcome to Wales.”

Councillor Evans, who used to live in one of the houses along Aston Hill, said: “It’s disappointing that the Welsh Government has said no to the Red Route.

“Their road review killed off a lot of roads throughout Wales but I think that we know best in North Wales what’s good for us.

“If they want to get people on public transport they’ve got to put in place proper rail and bus services and we haven’t got them.”

Green energy

Mr Tami and the councillors were at the side of the A494 at Aston Hill to meet local businessman Askar Sheibani, Chief Executive of Comtek Network Systems and chairman of Deeside Business Forum, who has launched a campaign against the Welsh Government’s roads review.

He said the decision to axe major road schemes in North Wales could hamstring the area’s manufacturing and tourism industries and deal a blow to its aim to become a major source of cheap, green energy for the country.

Roads protest, pictured Aston Hill. Picture Mandy Jones

He has called for a North Wales Metro Mayor who could represent the region’s interests and he said: “The representatives of the local community have heard a huge number of complaints about this decision to axe road schemes from the people they represent.

“They know about the health and pollution issues and the stress it causes. They’ve heard it first hand from the people who live here for many, many years, for decades.

“They’re sharing the residents’ concerns but this Welsh Government decision is also causing huge economic damage to tourism and local business.

“There was a solution to it, the Red Route, which the Welsh Government had committed to but now a deputy minister is scrapping it, completely out of the blue, so what does that do to their reputation when it comes to future announcements and promises.”

Air quality

In relation to the A494 Aston Hill, the Welsh Government said: “We will work with the Local Authority to develop options to improve air quality and support modal shift and resilience, aligned to the future road building tests.

A spokesperson added: “It is not the case all planned road schemes in North Wales have been scrapped. In fact, most of the schemes going forward across the whole of the country are in North Wales and Mid Wales.

“If we’re going to reach NetZero by 2050, we must shift to looking after the roads we already have and investing in more sustainable transport. The North Wales Transport commission has been established to speak to stakeholders in the region to develop sustainable modes of transport.

“We already have a dedicated Minister for North Wales in the Cabinet who champions the north and its many strengths and opportunities.

“The Minister chairs the Cabinet sub-committee for North Wales which meets every quarter and includes all Cabinet Ministers and Local Authority leaders.

“It is a valued forum which allows the challenges and opportunities facing the region to be raised and discussed at the very highest level.

“Our Programme for Government includes a number of commitments specifically for North Wales, including the establishing of a North Wales Medical School and progress with the North Wales Metro.

“Only last week we announced Anglesey Freeport will be one of Wales’ first freeports developing the Energy Island Programme (EIP) focusing on marine energy technology testing on the seabed (tidal and wind).”

A petition, created by Askar Sheibani, calling on the Welsh Government to devolve responsibilities and budgets for trunk roads in North Wales to North Wales is currently circulating – to sign go here…..


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NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
10 months ago

Well said but the MP is wasting his breath The Welsh Govt are only interested in South Wales and a good reason for getting rid of it asap

Rob
Rob
10 months ago

Is that why they scrapped the proposed Newport by-pass?

This is a reason to vote them out, not get rid of it.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rob
Frank
Frank
10 months ago

I beg your pardon, the Welsh government are only interested in south east Wales!! They keep us here in West Wales as deprived as North Wales. The only time they visit us is when they are on their holidays.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank

My apologies Frank Yes you are totally right.

Frank
Frank
10 months ago

Does the government realise that if the roads are neglected and left to deteriorate for much longer it will probably cost twice or three times more to repair them!!!! I suppose that does not bother them much as they will just whack up the council tax to pay for it. One would certainly think that leaders of the country would have more intelligence and realise this fact. Thick as two short planks.

Last edited 10 months ago by Frank
russell
russell
10 months ago

looked at the header pic and assumed Ar Log have released a new album

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
10 months ago

Is this a strategy by the Welsh Government to get us to use the sh*t public transport system that we have?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Who made Lee Waters King ?

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
10 months ago

The comments are interesting. But the point is missed.
Tami’s getting exercised for the simple reason that if built, this road will further tie north Wales to England. Suits his and his party’s unionist credentials.

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Fair point. However having a decent standard of roadway would assist trade between a free Wales ( hope! hope! ) and N.W England and beyond. And that’s not giving it greater priority than improving other major connections including the A483/A470 which would be a start on the much needed North-South artery. Now others on here will howl about the lack of rail connectivity and public transport. Those too should feature in a grand plan, especially the long distance bus routes which will need ….better roads! No avoiding it unless one’s head is jammed up one’s backside down in the Bay… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Not to mention the thousands of hospital visits for those in Cymru with seriously ill relatives receiving specialist life-saving care in North-West England somewhere, the quickest, easiest and door to door the better…

Lots to do before we cut England loose…

Geoffrey Harris
Geoffrey Harris
10 months ago

What a bunch of narrow minded winging Minnie,s in this discussion. You sound like a load of Tory middle class Englanders.
I,m very much a independence supporter, not at all labour, but in this they are correct. We have to break with providing more roads, the air we breathe is being polluted touch an extent that bird and insect populations are falling drastically, to the disadvantage of us all. Long term human health also. It takes a brave man to stand for whats important against those who shout out popular platitudes.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
10 months ago

You have raised the most important point. I’m no lover of the Labour government but there has to come a time to say stop.
Aside from the proposed new road tying us even closer to England, road supporters forget a simple truism – roads CREATE traffic, any new road will quickly snag up with more traffic.
There is no question that something urgently needs to be done to get people out of their cars, in this case ask where these vehicles are going, and why.

Chris
Chris
10 months ago

How do we travel in rural North Wales without personal vehicles? Public transports a myth up here like Y Ddraig Coch or Merlin. England isn’t the enemy either we share an island, a history and a genetic bond lasting a thousand years. But yeah let’s keep holding back our people economy and country just to stick it to England that’ll show them.

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris

During the “thousand years” you point to, we have had 800 years of London rule and 25 years of devolution. In the 800 years we have had little to no investment, and complain as some do at the lack of infrastructure with the small amount of money we do have they are now, in Cardiff, attempting to correct the wrongs. The population is south based, therefore logical to fix infastructure there before looking at lesser populated areas. I am no labour lover, but if we did not have devolution we would be left to rot, by our “genetically bonded” neighbours,… Read more »

Chris
Chris
10 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Show me a Welshman with 100% Welsh blood, no Saxon or Norman at all you’ll struggle. As for 800 years a Welsh family took that throne in the 1400s and set a Welsh dynasty the Tudor’s. We’re one island with 3 great cultures. But talking of the past thousand years if it hadn’t been for white industry farming, slate and coal mining we wouldn’t have anything. Our white Welsh Brythonic ancestors slaved away suffered and died for us, and we can’t even carry on the legacy of proper industry and connected communities. Plus you hate the English? There half Welsh… Read more »

Chris
Chris
10 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

That proves nothing other then Britons come from White European stock. I’m North Welsh with just under 500 years of traceable history through 2 grandparents with only North Welsh family in those lineage. I’m still British tho as I’m from the island. If anything your proving my point white settlers have a similar lineage, customs and culture.

Chris
Chris
10 months ago

The Welsh government are a terrorist organisation, hell bent on destroying Welsh, White and British cultures. No suprise North Wales loses out again whilst they divert our road funds to false climate policies and funding mass immigration, all whilst ordinary people can’t afford bills and struggle with low wages better transport routes could help alleviate.

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris

What has a road got to do with white British culture?

Chris
Chris
10 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Stopping all future industry and potential jobs for young local people who could travel to work and be able to afford to buy where there live, that’s how. All new policies focus around producing no emissions at all in Wales, sourcing everything from abroad and replacing local families with immigrants if you can’t see that your blind.

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