Angry Councillors Accuse Conwy of Declaring War on Motorists with Plans to Make Town Less Car Friendly
A group of angry councillors has accused Conwy of joining a war on motorists, following the council unveiling plans they say will make a town less car friendly.
Conwy County Council has carried out a public consultation to revamp Colwyn Bay with ‘active travel’ routes designed to encourage people to cycle or walk to work or when out shopping.
As part of the plans, Conwy wants to narrow roads and restrict or remove parking spaces to make it easier for people to cycle and walk – with more charging points for electric vehicles.
The plans would see the road narrowed on Penrhyn Road, slowing cars and widening pavements, and parking spaces removed from one side of the road.
Similar plans to narrow Abergele Road would also contribute to slowing traffic whilst cutting on-street parking. The plans would also see the railway station’s car park replaced with a public square.
Princes Drive and the promenade would also be narrowed to accommodate walking and cycle areas whilst Station Road would remain pedestrianised.
But a group of Conservative councillors have made their own feelings known as part of the consultation.
On behalf of Conwy’s Conservative Group, Cllr Cheryl Carlisle slammed the plans in a statement issued on behalf of councillors Neil Coverley, Gareth Jones, and Jo Nuttall.
“These latest Active Travel proposals have unfortunately been tailored to fit the Active Travel Grants now being offered by the Welsh Labour Government, to continue their escalating war on the motorist,” she said.
“These proposals are anti-car, anti-disability, anti-business, and anti-regeneration and growth. In all previous consultations the residents of the Bay of Colwyn area and the business owners and operators have consistently given the same messages to the council and to the varying consultants who have provided these expensive consultations.
“Namely, to open up Station Road to one way traffic and provide more parking spaces to increase trade; to make the area financially attractive and sustainable to support existing businesses and attract new ones, and to open up the one-way road from the prom and new beach into the town centre once again to increase footfall from visitors and residents alike
“These are the things that residents and business people have repeatedly asked for over the last 15 plus years, and now we have a set of proposals that do just the opposite. Massive reduction of parking spaces, continued closure of Station Road, no reopening of the highway from the beach, complete lack of consideration for disabled people and their safety, narrowing of the main Abergele Road with all the implications that brings during A55 closures, and a shared pavement between cyclists and pedestrians from the Marine roundabout right through to Penrhyn Road.”
Cllr Carlisle also had concerns about Old Colwyn’s busy Marine roundabout. She said: “The Marine roundabout has largely been overlooked in this consultation, as this merited its own section, given the massive implications for the residents of Old Colwyn, the surrounding rural villages, and the pupils of the five schools that use this roundabout.”
She added: “The five proposed pedestrian crossings, one on each junction off the roundabout will cause gridlock in an already very congested traffic hot spot, especially when the A55 is diverted through Old Colwyn, as regularly happens. We local councillors have been asking for years for one pedestrian crossing on Llanelian Road for the safe crossing for school pupils, but this has been repeatedly rejected for a variety of highways issues.”
Cllr Carlisle then raised the question of how the council might contribute towards the Welsh Government grant from its own funds.
This year Conwy ramped up council tax by 9.9% whilst cutting council services by 10% across the board.
Even schools were asked to make 5% budget cuts, despite children struggling after the pandemic.
On the group’s behalf, Cllr Carlisle added, “The elephant in the room of course is how Conwy’s portion of the funding will be paid for. Will it be a further huge council tax hike, or yet more cutbacks to already reduced essential services? We have many urgent issues that need funding and focus, but this apparent war on the car and local businesses is not one of them.”
The public consultation concluded last week.
By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter
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