Welsh Government slammed over ‘north-south divide’ in road repair row
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A council leader has accused the Welsh Government of prioritising repairs to storm-damaged roads in the south of Wales over those in the north of the country.
It follows a key route in Wrexham being closed for more than eight months as a result of a landslide.
The B5605 between Newbridge and Cefn Mawr was severely damaged during Storm Christoph in January, when torrential downpours caused part of it to collapse down an embankment.
There have been repeated calls for ministers in Cardiff Bay to bring an end to the disruption to local communities by announcing funding to fix it.
It comes as further cracks have appeared in the road, with residents currently forced to take lengthy diversions to get to work or school.
However, senior members of Wrexham Council were left frustrated after an initial bid for the government to foot the bill was rejected as it did not meet criteria.
Council leader Mark Pritchard has now hit out at the ongoing wait for money after claiming it was evidence of a “north-south divide” in Wales.
Speaking at a media briefing this week, the independent politician said: “If this road was in south Wales, would there have been a commitment for it to be done by now? Absolutely – that’s my personal opinion and I’ll stand by it.
“It’s unacceptable that the road has been closed and it will continue to be closed for too long.
“The road needs to be funded and there needs to be an announcement very quickly.
“What will happen if there’s not is we will have more floods, you’ll lose more of the road, and it will cost the taxpayers more money in the long run.
“There’s a north-south divide here. It needs to be recognised and the funding needs to come to north Wales.”
It was previously estimated that it could cost anywhere between £500,000 to £1m to fix the road, with more than 1,700 people signing a petition calling for it to be reopened.
It was launched by Cefn councillor Sonia Benbow-Jones, who said it was a “critical diversionary route” from the A483 during closures or planned works.
It means drivers are currently having to take a 15-mile diversion via Llangollen when the dual carriageway is closed.
Cllr Pritchard’s comments came despite deputy council leader David A Bithell indicating an announcement of funding for investigation work could be made in the near future.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are working with Wrexham Council to secure funding for this project.”