The Welsh Government has been slammed by Carmarthenshire councillors for further delaying work on the much-needed Llandeilo by-pass.
First Minister Mark Drakeford, as Labour Finance Minister in 2016, came to an agreement with Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price to allocate £50m to fund the by-pass. Work was due to start next year, but has now been pushed back to 2025/26.
Heavy traffic on the A483 south-north trunk road travels through the middle of the town in the Tywi Valley. Traffic in the main street is often gridlocked, resulting in poor air quality and danger to pedestrians. Residents have been calling for a by-pass for at least 40 years.
Council Leader Emlyn Dole called it a deplorable state of affairs. “An agreement had been made and money set aside to deliver the project. But now the scheme is being abandoned for another five years. Llandeilo will lose out in so many ways. Children walking to school and other pedestrians will lose out by having to walk through poor quality air. Businesses will lose out due to the congestion.
“The Labour Welsh Government has abandoned the people of Llandeilo. However, we can change five years to seven months by voting out Labour next May and electing a Plaid Cymru government which keeps its promises and delivers on time,” said Cllr Dole.
“How many more times will the people of Carmarthenshire be let down by this Labour Government?” asked Cllr Carl Harris. “Mark Drakeford promised the £50m as part of a deal with Adam Price, in return for Plaid supporting their government’s annual budget. The Labour party should stop moving the goalposts and honour the agreement.”
Cllr Hazel Evans, the council’s Executive Board member for highways said she was deeply disappointed by a letter from Government Minister Ken Skates about the by-pass postponement, although funding had been rung fenced in 2016. “I would like to know where this funding is now being spent,” she said. “An alternative for local commutes would have been the Tywi Valley Cycle way to either walk or cycle but Deputy Transport Minister Lee Waters refuses to recognise this route as an Active Travel scheme. I will be asking these questions to the Minister in my response to his letter.”
Members expressed astonishment and anger at Labour group leader Cllr Rob James’ attempt to spin the issue by blaming the delay on Covid-19. It was pointed out that plans to go ahead with the by-pass predated the present pandemic.
A Notice of Motion proposed by Llandeilo’s Cllr Edward Thomas, a member of the Plaid-Independent coalition which runs the county council, deploring the delay and slamming the Welsh Government, was passed overwhelmingly.