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Severn Bridge tolls to be axed by Christmas

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FOLLOWING up the commitment made by the Prime Minister Theresa May, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has confirmed that all tolls will be scrapped with free flow traffic on the Prince of Wales bridge and the original Severn Crossing between Wales and England ahead of schedule on December 17, 2018.

After 50 years of tolls of up to £20 per vehicle, Theresa May’s Conservatives chose to scrap tolls for the 25m vehicles per year using the crossings that support the key route between South Wales and the West of England.

The Secretary of State for Wales confirmed that, ahead of the great festive getaway, tolls will be abolished completely and permanently to make way for a new economic powerhouse between South Wales and the West of England.
The decision will, for the first time, combine the economic might of a growing Welsh economy and the West of England to further spread prosperity across the United Kingdom.

Regular commuters will enjoy free flow journeys and save over £1,400 per year in toll charges from mid-December – transforming the economic opportunities on both sides of the Severn. It is estimated that scrapping tolls will provide an immediate benefit of over £100m per year for Wales, over a billion pounds of economic benefit to Wales over the next decade.

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, said: “My number one aim when I became Secretary of State for Wales, was to do away with tolling that for half a century has restricted and distorted the growth and connections of the Welsh economy. Wales will be more open for business than ever after the Conservatives deliver on this commitment. Scrapping tolls before the festive period is an early Christmas present for hard-working commuters who will be £1,400 per year better off.

“This is just the start of my plan to pursue yet more growth for a stronger and a better-connected Wales. Scrapping the Severn tolls is an example of the Conservatives ensuring that all four nations of the UK thrive after Brexit, in doing so, transforming the joint economic prospects of South Wales and the West of England.

“This direct intervention will guarantee that links are strengthened and enhanced between the natural economic areas of South Wales and the West of England.”

Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “By abolishing tolls for 25million annual journeys between two nations, the Conservatives are sending a positive, open-for-business message. Toll-free, free flow journeys between both communities will drive further economic benefits to all areas surrounding the crossings and the key economic centres in Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Newport and across to Swansea and West Wales.

“By removing a major added cost of doing business between Wales and England, the Conservatives continue to deliver on improving the economic prospects of working people. With this major step, we are encouraging a close bond between two nations as part of the United Kingdom, whilst driving economic growth right across the country.”

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Rescuers attend to injured construction workers in New Dock Street

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A MULTI AGENCY rescue operation is underway in Llanelli involving all three emergency services after an incident at a construction site.

Workers have been at the New Dock Street site, working for around three years, The Herald understands.

The Herald has been told that a piece of plant malfunctioned causing the emergency, which happened earlier this evening (Mar 19).

Four fire engines and three ambulances are at the scene, our reporter said.

A specialist line rescue team is involved in the recovery operation.

An eye-witness told the press that three workers have been affected.

The source said: “Concrete had just been mixed and had been poured into a skip which was then lifted using a machine. The concrete was being lowered into the hole, it’s probably about 20ft and then the machine toppled over.”

He added: “Two men climbed out of the hole on their own and as a precaution the third man was told to stay down there. The workers were told to leave the site as a precaution.”

At least one person has been seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Llanelli: Met Bar incident investigated

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AN INCIDENT which resulted in a 51-year old man having to go hospital is being investigated by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The man has been discharged from Glangwili Hospital but police are looking in to how the incident happened and how the man fell down some steps.

The incident happened outside the Met Bar in Llanelli on Saturday night (Mar 16).

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald: “At approximately 10.55pm on Saturday March 16, officers responded to reports of an injured man outside The Met Bar, Station Road, Llanelli, after he’d fallen down some steps at the location.

“Ambulance was at scene, and the 51 year old man was conveyed to Glangwili Hospital with what was thought to have been a serious head injury. He was then later discharged from hospital, and the head injury was no longer believed to be serious.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101 and quoting DPP/3011/16/03/2019/02/C. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional

Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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