Monday, February 28, 2011

Newtown Traffic : The case for a protest vote on Thursday

I am working in Prague this week and was on holiday in the Lakes last week, so I have already voted in the referendum to give the Welsh Assembly Government the ability to make laws in devolved areas without recourse to Westminister.

Certain events which are quite minor make you think if this deserves a protest vote. I am quite supportive of WAG, they have done some good work and have many good A.M.'s but on somethings you have to wonder how capable the underlying civil service really is.

Returning from the Lakes on Friday at about 2pm, we spent 90 minutes crawling through Newtown. Having a phone with Internet I looked up the Powys Highways number and found out that the design work for the new junction layout was paid for by Tesco and done by an external consultant. W.A.G. should have overseen the work. I normally travel through Newtown before 7am or after 8pm, so its the 1st time I have seen this chaos. Talking to a few people who travel that way regularly they say it has been bad for a long time, but got much worse as Tesco opened.

A quick Google search yields this, this and this, plus lots more. This is a high point though

I was told today that the Assembly’s experiences elsewhere indicates that traffic flows will improve as drivers become familiar with the new layout and that WAG does not intend therefore to make any fundamental changes immediately. I accept that flow will improve a little as drivers get used to the layout, but WAG are just not in touch with what is happening here in Newtown and are making excuses.
I understand that is a a report by an interested party, but if this really is true, then it shows a complete lack of understanding of the problem and its impact. The cost to mid-Wales in lost productivity must be in man years per week.

In the world I work in that size of mess would have resulted in the responsible person at worst being sacked and at best getting a serious roasting and moved to somewhere they can't do any damage. If W.A.G. were responsible for oversight of this, how can they

  1. have let such a scheme be implemented by Tesco
  2. To have ignored the need to short term remedial measures [if shutting Tesco till the underlying issue is resolved is the only option, then so be it, this is a trunk road after all]
  3. To only have a long term plan of a by-pass which looks to be at least 3 years away
This is not the only case where WAG has let itself down. Traffic modelling is not an exact science, but to have got it so far wrong and failed to even try to provide a short term solution (6 months is more than long enough) shows a serious weakness.

Its unfortunate that some people will think about voting no on Thursday because of serious deficiencies in WAG's Civil Service capability.

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