An­nounce­ment ‘this month’ af­ter protests over long de­lay to re­lief road

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Eryl Crump

WELSH Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials will make an an­nounce­ment about a long-awaited by­pass later this month.

Ken Skates, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Econ­omy and Trans­port, was ques­tioned about the de­lay about the Caernar­fon by­pass by Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price.

Dur­ing ques­tions to the min­is­ter in the Senedd in Cardiff, he asked him for an up­date on the de­lay. He also posed the ques­tion that the de­lay was due to the pro­posed M4 re­lief road tak­ing up of­fi­cials’ time, as well as Welsh Gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture.

Re­spond­ing, Mr Skates said he would al­ways urge cau­tion be­fore “pour­ing con­crete into road projects as soon as pos­si­ble” in AMs’ con­stituen­cies.

“That’s the rea­son we are set­ting up the Na­tional In­fra­struc­ture Com­mis­sion to make in­formed de­ci­sions in a de-politi­cised way, with the as­sis­tance of ex­perts. With re­gard to the Caernar­fon by­pass, this has taken up a con­sid­er­able amount of re­source in terms of the in­spec­torate and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials’ time but I have suf­fi­cient to deal with this and the M4 and other projects.

“I will be mak­ing a de­ci­sion in the com­ing three weeks on this par­tic­u­lar pro­gramme. The rea­son it has taken time is due to the num­ber of peo­ple who have en­gaged in the process of con­sul­ta­tion.

“The in­spec­tor con­sid­ered 20 ex­pres­sions of sup­port and 160 ob­jec­tions and 20 al­ter­na­tive routes were pro­posed. It’s ab­so­lutely right we up­hold our statu­tory du­ties and give care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion to an in­spec- tor’s re­port be­fore a fi­nal de­ci­sion.”

Last week, res­i­dents at Bontnewydd staged a protest by de­mand­ing a start date for work on the new by­pass, which would cre­ate a new six-mile road be­tween Caernar­fon and Bontnewydd. Con­struc­tion on the £90 mil­lion road was ex­pected to start this au­tumn af­ter a pub­lic in­quiry ended, but, in March, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment said it needed more time to con­sider the in­spec­tor’s re­port. Siân Gwen­l­lian AM, who joined the protest with her Plaid Cymru col­league Hy­wel Wil­liams MP, said some peo­ple fear the by­pass will never be built.

She said: “Our con­stituents have waited long enough for a de­ci­sion on this vi­tally im­por­tant project, which will pro­vide a boost to the lo­cal econ­omy in Ar­fon. Peo­ple are rightly fed up with peren­nial de­lays which have been com­pounded by dither­ing, in­de­ci­sion and lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. What peo­ple want is real ac­tion and a straight an­swer as to when work on the by­pass will start. We hope the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary will now hon­our his com­mit­ment and fi­nally con­firm a start date within the promised three weeks.”

The news was greeted cau­tiously by res­i­dents in Bontnewydd.

One said: “It’s a step in the right di­rec­tion and, hope­fully, it will be good news with work sched­uled to ac­tu­ally start.

“The con­trac­tors have been ap­pointed and should have been on site two years ago and, un­der the orig­i­nal sched­ule, the by­pass should have been open­ing later this year.”

A Welsh Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said: “We un­der­stand res­i­dents want a de­ci­sion on the Caernar­fon/ Bontnewydd by­pass, how­ever, it is es­sen­tial and ab­so­lutely right that suf­fi­cient con­sid­er­a­tion is given to all the ev­i­dence on what is a ma­jor project.

“We are con­sid­er­ing in fine de­tail the find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions of the In­spec­tor’s re­port and the high vol­ume of cor­re­spon­dence in favour and against the pro­pos­als as part of the statu­tory process. It is vi­tal all are fully eval­u­ated and the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary has com­mit­ted to mak­ing a de­ci­sion in the Spring.” ● Last week’s Her­ald pub­lished a story about the Caernar­fon by­pass which stated ‘the Welsh Gov­ern­ment has been ap­proached for a com­ment’. We are happy to clar­ify a com­ment was pro­vided which ap­peared on­line but, re­gret­tably, did not ap­pear in the Her­ald news­pa­pers due to a break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. We apol­o­gise for the omis­sion.

Pic: Ar­wyn Roberts

● Re­cent protests in Bontnewydd over de­lays to the long-awaited re­lief road

● Pro­test­ers in Bontnewydd protest­ing about the slow de­vel­op­ment of the new by pass.

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