M4 and A55 are ‘pan-UK roads’ and should be overseen by Westminster says Conservative MP
A Conservative MP has said that the M4 and A55 are “pan-UK” roads and therefore should be overseen by Westminster.
Mark Fletcher, the MP for Bolsover, said that the roads in Wales should be managed in the same way as the Trans-European Transport Network, which is technically and financially managed by the European Commission.
The M4 and A55 are currently controlled by the Welsh Government, who decided in 2019 not to go ahead with an M4 relief road in the face of opposition from the UK Government.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Mark Fletcher asked the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart whether the change of ownership could go ahead.
“The Secretary of State will know that certain roads, such as the M4 and the A55 in north Wales, connect our great Union and are therefore the property of the whole Union,” he said.
“Does he agree that these roads should be treated as pan-UK roads and should be overseen in a similar way to how the European Union oversees the trans-European transport network?”
Simon Hart said that the Conservative MP had made a “good point”.
“He will have heard me refer to the M4 on many occasions as a vital asset that joins the European mainland to the Republic of Ireland,” he said.
“It is not just a Welsh road; it is of economic significance to the UK and more widely, and it plays a strategic role.
“That, combined with the slightly mysterious position that the Welsh Government have adopted on a moratorium on road building, leads me to the conclusion that he has reached, which is that there are better ways of maintaining and improving the UK-wide network, including roads that are exclusively in Wales.”
In November the UK Government revealed a plan to focus on cross-border transport links between Wales and England. The Union Connectivity Review by Sir Peter Hendy was a means of “binding” the UK together according to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
He said that Transport was key to “binding the family of nations that is the United Kingdom closer together”.
“It is not good enough that certain areas of the UK thrive while others fall behind. We must realise our full national potential and that means mobilising the resources and skills of all parts of this country,” he said.
“I am indebted to Sir Peter for his work. We will consider his recommendations carefully, engage closely with the devolved administrations, and work collegiately to ensure these proposals strengthen the ties that bind us, now and for the future.”
The Union Connectivity Review proposes major overhauls of the transport connections across the north and south of Wales and England. Branded ‘UKNET’, the finished network would see “a strategic transport network for the whole of the United Kingdom”.
Specifically, in Wales the plan will aim to bring about fast journey times across the border on the A55 and M4, faster journey times from England across the South Wales and North Wales main lines and rail links from the English Midlands to Cardiff.