The Queen or Nye Bevan Bridge? Dispute between Wales and England over new name for old crossing

Picture by Jamie Taylor (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter

People in Wales should be consulted on a proposal to rename the old Severn Bridge after the Queen, a Monmouthshire councillor has said.

Chepstow councillor Armand Watts said not consulting with people in Wales on the issue would be “a huge injustice”, and that if it is renamed, it should be after NHS founder Aneurin Bevan.

South Gloucestershire councillor Matthew Riddle has tabled a motion for the landmark to be renamed in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Under the motion, to be considered at a meeting on Wednesday, the leader of South Gloucestershire Council will write to the UK Government’s secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps to request that the bridge is renamed.

While the bridge is used by commuters travelling between Wales and England, technically it is entirely in England as the border lies over the Wye Bridge, on the Welsh side of the crossing.

 

‘For the English’

Cllr Riddle told the BBC he believes the renaming of the bridge is “purely a matter for the English”.

“I do not think it’s an issue for the Welsh because the Severn Bridge only connects south Gloucestershire to west Gloucestershire,” he said.

“It’s the Wye Bridge that connects England and Wales.

“I believe the renaming of the Severn bridge is purely a matter for the English and not the Welsh Assembly nor any Welsh county council.”

The Welsh Assembly was officially renamed the the Senedd/Welsh Parliament earlier this year.

Cllr Watts told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I think he needs to come and have a look at it for himself because it clearly does enter into Wales.

“I’ve invited him to come and have a look at it himself.

“I think he is simply wrong. He is doing the population of Wales a huge injustice by saying they should be ignored on such a consultation.”

However Cllr Riddle said that he expects people in Wales will also be consulted on the proposal.

“My expectation is that they will be consulted,” he said.

“The point I was making is that the Severn bridge connects one part of Gloucestershire to another in effect, and that it is the Wye Bridge that connects England to Wales.”

The old Severn Bridge was opened by the Queen in 1966 and was the main crossing over the River Severn for 30 years, until the opening of the Second Severn Crossing, since renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Cllr Riddle said the bridge has a “close link” to the Queen’s reign and that renaming it would be an appropriate way of celebrating the Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

But Cllr Watts has also questioned the cost of the proposal and said when the Second Severn Crossing was renamed most people were either indifferent or thought it was “a waste of money”.

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