Tuesday 6 April 2010

Rehashing the old arguments

A week or so ago, Ieuan Wyn Jones announced the route for the much-awaited Llanddewi Velfrey by-pass. It's still a couple of years away, by the time it goes through all the final design phases, and the legal processes, but it's a commitment and it's in the plan.

Who knows for certain whether it will stay in the plan for long after the election, with Labour committed to significant reductions in capital spending, and the Tories complaining that Labour aren't cutting quickly or deeply enough? (At least, that's what I think the Tories were saying yesterday, but their economic policies currently seem to be changing on an almost daily basis.)

The Tory response locally was extremely negative. Instead of welcoming the commitment to addressing the very serious problems being experienced by residents in Llanddewi Velfrey, they have complained that the road is not going to be a dual carriageway. In short, the party of deepest cuts in public expenditure is complaining that the Government is not spending a great deal more on building a bigger and better road.

(That does seem to be a general problem with the Conservatives in Wales at Assembly level – much of their critique of the government seems to be about why the government has not spent more. They seem to be significantly detached from the Conservatives of England, although it's the latter who actually set their economic policy. Would they still feel as free to argue for more spending under a Cameron government, I wonder.)

In arguing for a dual carriageway, they are effectively arguing for a longer delay before the by-pass is built – they know as well as I do that the increased cost could only be met by robbing other schemes or by delaying this one. They also seem to have forgotten that when the same arguments were used in relation to the Robeston Wathen by-pass, those arguments were comprehensively and unanimously refuted by the Assembly committee which considered the matter at the behest of Pembrokeshire County Council. Even the Tory on the relevant committee recognised the fallacy of the arguments presented.

The appeal by Pembrokeshire added significant delay to the process, as well as costing around £250,000 to stage. The Tories seem to want only to re-hash the same debate over again, rather than accepting that the time for argument is long since over. I, like local residents, will be hoping that Ieuan ignores them, and gets on with it.

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