Posted: Thu 7th Mar 2024

Wrexham Councillor Hits Back at Welsh Government’s Transport Criticism

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 7th, 2024

A LEADING Wrexham councillor has hit back after local politicians were accused of harming efforts to improve public transport in the area.
Members of Wrexham Council were criticised in the Senedd last week by the Welsh Government’s transport minister Lee Waters.
It came after they twice voted against adopting the area’s Local Development Plan due to concerns over the number of houses proposed.
While the strategic document was later adopted in December last year following a judicial review, Mr Waters said the original decision had made it difficult to plan for transport improvements in Wrexham.
He said: “One of the recommendations of the roads review was to look at Wrexham and to judge it against both our ‘Future Wales’ planning policy and the Wales transport strategy, and we are trying to do the work with the local authority there.
“The fact that they have chosen to torpedo their own local development plan doesn’t help, because we need to take transport and planning together simultaneously, because they are so integral to each other.”
Mr Waters, whose official title is Deputy Minister for Climate Change, made his comments during a discussion on work carried out by the North Wales Transport Commission.
David A Bithell, deputy leader of Wrexham Council, has now hit back at the remarks as he said it was the devolved government which had hindered transport developments with its policies.
It comes after Mr Waters announced in February 2023 that planned improvements to junctions three to six of the A483 bypass in Wrexham had been scrapped.
He said the proposals would not help the government to meet its aim of reducing car journeys and carbon emissions.
Cllr Bithell said the introduction of a new 20mph national speed limit had also caused problems for public transport in Wrexham.
He said: “Unfortunately, I think one of the biggest errors in respect of transport is with Welsh Government’s view about reducing road building.
“I think that the A483 improvements should have gone ahead as there was evidence to back that up.
“I don’t agree personally with the introduction of the 20mph zones because that is having an impact on the performance of bus services.
“The bus services can’t meet their own timetables now because they’re having to go slower and that will become more apparent with the enforcement regime that they’re introducing.”
When the decision was made not to proceed with the A483 improvements, the government said it would instead focus on creating an “exemplar residential and employment development” in Wrexham.
Ministers said it would deliver lower levels of car use after an independent review was published on the future of road investments in Wales.
Mr Waters announced this week that he was due to step down from his deputy minister role when a new First Minister is appointed later this month.
Commenting further on the current state of public transport, Cllr Bithell said: “Generally, I think it’s poorer now than it was pre-Covid.
“We are starting to see patronage on buses and trains get better, but I think we’ve got a long way to go to improve public transport.
“I recently chaired a meeting of North Wales cabinet members, and everybody’s really frustrated with transport across Wales.
“They’re not seeing any tangible benefits come in. All we’re seeing is negativity, with the poor performance of train services and poor performance of bus services.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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