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Third Menai crossing more than ‘just a transport issue’ for Anglesey

ANGLESEY Council expressed “disappointment” that Cardiff politicians have failed to understand the challenges faced over a proposed third Menai Strait crossing. Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of its executive (Thursday, February, 29) council leader Cllr Llinos Medi stated it was more than “just a transport issue.”

“The island can be cut off from health and emergency services, people from work-places, education establishments, and it can creates challenges and threats to safety and life,” she said. The comments came as the executive discussed its report “improving the reliability and the resilience’ across the Menai Strait”.

It’s a response to the North Wales Transport Commission report looking at transportation issues across Wales including another Menai crossing. Councillor Medi said our report “expresses our disappointment” the commission’s proposals “do not get to grips with the challenges that exist locally,” she said.
There was not enough “understanding of the true concerns about the resilience of links to the mainland,” she said. “The discussion has always been about the third bridge, that we need it because we don’t like waiting in traffic in the morning and evening but that is not the true concern.”

The meeting discussed the difficulties encountered by patients, staff and emergency services unable to reach Ysbyty Gwynedd during closures of the Britannia and Menai Suspension bridges during accidents or high winds.

Deputy leader Cllr Robin Wyn Williams, said in one incident access over the Britannia Bridge had been prevented for up to 24 hours. He said: “We have had a number of situations where fatal accidents have happened… facts that the government have just ignored, totally.”

The meeting also raised issues over the future resilience of the 175 year old Britannia Bridge and 200 year old Menai Suspension Bridge – originally built for horses and carts, not heavy lorries and vehicles. And the potential for impact on the local economy by businesses off coming to the area and Freeport were also raised.

It was agreed that the chief executive would write to Welsh Government “appealing that they change their policy position on the Menai Strait crossing and recognise the need to resolve the inadequacies and lack of resilience that exists”.

The council’s report would also be shared with regional Senedd Cymru members, partners and stakeholders. Report author Tudor H Jones said: “We’re disappointed with the commission and feel the recommendations won’t solve the problems.

“We encourage the Welsh Government to look again at it”

Cllr Dafydd Rhys portfolio holder for highways added: “A new bridge is essential for Anglesey residents to live their lives, but also for the economy, tourism, visitors businesses, and the Freeport.

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”Holyhead is the second busiest port in the UK and it is important for any other potential future developments such as Wylfa. I don’t think the government in Cardiff understands our situation here, the importance of a third crossing, a bridge, a tunnel something to connect us to the mainland.”

Cllr Carwyn Jones said: “I truly hope the Welsh Government will take note of the report, not just put it in file 13, but pay attention and do something…we are vulnerable.” Cllr Medi said: “The challenge we have is that we can’t get them to understand our message. If there was any other area of Wales where there was concern for 70,000 people there would an emergency plan, a process, forward planning, thought behind it.”

“I am not sure why our message is unclear perhaps they don’t understand connectivity in rural areas.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to improving the resilience of the Menai crossings. We support the North Wales Transport Commission’s recommendations, and we will be procuring detailed feasibility work on the first six it has identified as a priority. These focus on reducing closures of the Britannia Bridge.

“Other measures to be investigated include wind deflectors, variable speed limits and layout changes to the mainline across the bridge.