I was disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to learn that the Green-run Forest of Dean District Council, supported by the Labour Party, voted against plans to support a Chepstow bypass.
During the last full council meeting, Conservative Cllr Nick Evans for Tidenham put forward the following motion: “That the Forest of Dean District Council supports the creation of the Chepstow bypass as a gateway to the Forest of Dean.”
This motion was voted against by Green and Labour councillors. The traffic congestion around Chepstow may not bother those who voted against this motion, but it does impact hundreds and hundreds of my constituents every day. A bypass is essential to unblocking this pinch point to allow hard-working people to get on with their lives, rather than frequently being stuck in slow-moving traffic.
We all want to encourage economic growth and greater investment in the Forest, that is why it is disappointing that the Green Party and the Labour Party do not support a Chepstow bypass.
Proposals for a bypass would need to be initiated by the local highways authority. As this project would straddle both sides of the river, both Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire County Councils, as the highways authorities, would need to be involved. I am pleased that Conservative-controlled Gloucestershire County Council is in favour of a bypass and has committed to a WelTAG Stage 3 report that will see the project progress further.
Conservatives across the River Wye have been championing the cause for a bypass. I am pictured here with Monmouth MP, David TC Davies, former leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr Richard John and leader of Gloucestershire County Council, Cllr Mark Hawthorne MBE.
Once the reports have been completed, the two county councils will be able to submit funding bids to the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport. As Secretary of State for Transport, I would be unable to look at the bid myself, as the project would be within my constituency, but another minister within the department would be able to look at it.
The best way to make progress, and get this project over the line, would have been for all of us to work together and speak with a united voice. However, in the Forest of Dean, it is now only the Conservatives that support plans for a Chepstow Bypass.