Rays bypass from Llanelli Online on Vimeo.
Ray Jones lives on Sandy Rd in Llanelli. He claims that the traffic levels and subsequent pollution is impacting on the lives of local residents and those who use the road to travel to school. Mr Jones claims that despite the will of local residents wanting a bypass the local politicians and the County Council have left the residents to suffer the consequences of over development and a system, which goes against local and national policy on the environment.
Mr Jones is a long time campaigner and some might claim ‘notorious’ for complaining on issues but does Mr Jones and the 2,000 or so people who have signed a petition have a point?
Llanelli Online went to visit Mr Jones on Friday (Jan 12). We arrived at around 2pm and traffic was exceptionally heavy then. So much so that after only ten minutes standing outside the home of Ray Jones we started to cough and our eyes began to burn. The taste and smell of the fumes was overwhelming. By the time the schools were closing for the day at least a dozen coaches began ferrying children home. Mr Jones suggested that this demand for busing children in from areas as far away as Bynea is the council’s ‘own own goal’ policy of creating super schools and that not with even the best will in the world would it be viable for children to walk or cycle to school as their literature aspires too.
Mr Jones claims that those walking or cycling are being exposed to heavy pollutants and that those in office have chosen to reject what he and the 2,000 petitioners consider the most feasible option of creating a mile long bypass from the Old Castle works, which would run parallel along the railway line and exit at the Festival Fields roundabout.
Other areas are also affected by high levels of pollution as a result of increased traffic according to Mr Jones. He claims that not only is Sandy Road suffering from increased traffic and pollution but that Denham Avenue, Cwmbach Rd, Stradey Rd and Llanelli’s West End have become pollution hot-spots with the incidents of asthma in those areas on the rise.
Mr Jones claims that cracks are appearing in local homes and that unless something is done the homes in the area will be devalued. He is calling for urgent action from the politicians and county council. He wants the Executive Board to get out with hand held pollution meters to see for themselves what residents are having to put up with.
Mr Jones told us that he had written numerous letters on the issue to the local press and that none were published. His appeals to politicians he says have yielded nothing.
Llanelli AM Lee Waters has addressed the issues at the Senedd. Mr Waters has called for a whole-scale review to improve air quality in Wales.
Calling on the Welsh Government to look into what has worked elsewhere in the UK and abroad, he spoke at length about Sandy Road in Llanelli – an Air Quality Management Area with known harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide. Mr. Waters said:
“I feel desperately sorry for the people who live on Sandy Road. They are fed-up about the build-up of traffic. It is an unpleasant place to walk and it is an unpleasant place to live. I completely understand residents’ frustration.”
During the Plenary debate held on Tuesday the Assembly Member spoke of how local campaigner Ray Jones, who lives along Sandy Road, has led an impressive and passionate campaign to tackle the issue – but stopped short of supporting Mr Jones’ call for a bypass:
“Ray Jones is a doughty campaigner on these issues. His solution, and the solution of nearly 2,000 people who’ve signed a petition, is to create a bypass along Sandy Road. Whilst I understand the desire to alleviate the bottleneck that we have created on Sandy Road, creating an expensive road—we know that roads on average cost £20 million per mile—over an area of tranquility where there is an existing housing development will, I think, not solve the problem; it would simply shift it.
“These are the sort of desperate measures that people are forced to think about, because we’re offering them no alternative. I don’t think this short-term fix would solve this, but what else are we offering people in this situation?”
Mr Waters went on to criticise a recent air quality improvement action plan published by Carmarthenshire County Council:
“Carmarthenshire County Council have come up with an air quality management area plan that simply talks about possibilities; they don’t talk about actions. We’re kicking the can down the road constantly, leaving it to future generations. The evidence is plentiful of what we need to do to change this. We need to have behaviour change and we need to invest in alternatives to car use, and stop building houses in areas where there is poor public transport.”
He finished his contribution to Tuesday’s debate with a call to action: “This is the political leadership dilemma we face in this National Assembly. It is easier for the quick fix than it is the long-term solution… It is time that we tackled the causes, not the consequences. We need a whole-scale review into what has worked elsewhere in the UK and abroad to improve air quality, and we must stop monitoring failure and start modelling success.”
A full transcript of the debate is available on the Assembly’s website – http://record.assembly.wales/.