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THE ROAD TO NOWHERE: COUNCIL ALARM OVER TRUNK ROAD AGENCIES

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The Welsh Local Government Association expresses deep concern and reservations about a Welsh Assembly Government co...
The Welsh Local Government Association expresses deep concern and reservations about a Welsh Assembly Government consultation on proposed changes to the structure of trunk road agencies.

John Hopkins, planning & environment spokesperson for the WLGA, said:

'The assembly have released a consultation paper which will cause alarm amongst Welsh local government and those who use Welsh roads. Currently there are eight trunk road agencies in Wales. These work well in ensuring that local issues and knowledge are applied to the maintenance and management of the core road network in Wales, in the words of the assembly government's own report: 'the current arrangements are recognised as providing a service which is generally of good quality'.'

Whilst accepting the need to continually improve service delivery, the association is extremely doubtful that a substantial reduction can be introduced without deterioration in service. The recent fiasco in Eastern England when contractors failed to grit the roads demonstrates that big is not necessarily beautiful, nor does it guarantee effective service. The insistence of the assembly government in promoting a single preferred solution raises the spectre of a fait accompli rather than an open consultation.

Mr Hopkins added:

'It would appear that the Welsh Assembly Government is being driven by concerns about cost, yet there is a risk that they will fall into the trap of knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Maintenance of our trunk roads is an important factor in the local economy of Wales - we do not want to see these jobs and expertise leaked from Wales nor to see traffic control reduced to a series of gridlocks'.

This is an important consultation. A deadline of 29 August, requiring local authorities to complete their deliberations whilst the assembly is on their summer holiday, does not imply any real serious intention to listen.

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