Wales politics

M4 congestion: Relief road alternatives body set-up

M4 traffic
Image caption The M4 relief road was proposed as a solution to tackling congestion on the M4 around Newport

A group of experts have been recruited to a commission examining proposals to reduce congestion in Newport.

Economy minister Ken Skates announced the body in the summer - saying four months ago he would appoint the commission "immediately".

It followed the axing of the M4 relief road scheme.

In a statement to AMs, he said he is looking forward "to receiving the commission's first update at the end of this year".

Mr Skates has promised initial findings before the end of 2019, although a newspaper report suggested they will be delayed until spring next year.

Welsh Conservative transport spokesman Russell George said the statement makes "no mention of when the commission will report publicly".

He said a further delay would give "the Welsh Government plenty of time to argue again over the amount of money the commission will be able to spend to end the daily congestion on the M4".

Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption An artist's impression of the axed M4 relief road project

The M4 relief road was scrapped in the summer, after £114m had been spent on the proposal and following a public inquiry which recommended it went ahead.

The South Wales Transport Commission was tasked with looking at "innovative" ways of solving congestion issues, including the 28 alternatives put in front of the inquiry.

It will be led by Ofcom chairman Lord Burns.

The seven commissioners are:

  • Peter Jones - professor of transport and sustainable development at University College London
  • Lynn Sloman - founder and director of Transport for Quality of Life, an environmental and sustainable transport consultancy
  • Stephen Gifford - transport economist and National Infrastructure Commission for Wales member
  • Elaine Seagriff - a strategic transport planner
  • James Davies - chairman of Industry Wales and a member of the Economy and Transport ministerial advisory board
  • Jen Heal - design adviser for the Design Commission for Wales
  • Beverly Owen - a senior Newport council official with responsibility for regeneration, environment and transport strategy

Jayne Bryant, Newport West Labour AM and a supporter of the relief road, said the commission "must make swift progress".

"In the meantime more can be done to make small improvements rapidly such as better signage informing drivers about delays and accidents," she said.

Mr Skates said progress had been made with additional traffic officers on the M4, live journey time information and social media updates.

The Newport AM said she would be asking ministers how they are measuring the progress on the initial changes.

"But, there is no doubt we need to see much bigger improvements," she added.

A Welsh Government spokesman said an initial update is expected from the commission by the end of this year.

"As noted in the original terms of reference, the commission will provide a formal interim report within six months of its formation, with a final report to follow. Its findings will build on the short-term measures that have already been introduced," he added.

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