SDR idea is ‘crazy’ as Newport M4 relief road
9:13am Saturday 14th December 2013 in News
A PROPOSED alternative to the Gwent Levels M4 relief road from a respected Welsh academic has been criticised by senior Newport Labour councillors.
At a meeting, members of Newport Council cabinet said the A48 Southern Distributor Road wasn’t suitable for an M4 relief road, as proposed by transport expert Professor Stuart Cole.
The professor’s so-called Blue Route would see the SDR and steelworks road upgraded to motorway standard for £320 million instead of a new three-lane motorway proposed in the current M4 consultation for £1.2 billion.
It is not an option being discussed in the current public consultation, which closes Monday.
Cllr Bob Bright, Labour leader of Newport Council, told the cabinet meeting: “The SDR is not suitable for an M4 relief road. It’s worse than the original route.”
He said the relief road had suffered from “consultation after consultation” – and endorsed comments by the leader of the opposition backing the M4 relief road.
“We’re absolutely frustrated, something needs to be done,” he said, comparing the M4 to a “blocked artery”.
“If we go on talking about it and have all these academics coming up with different ideas, nothing is going to happen,” he added.
Cabinet member for human resources and assets Cllr Mark Whitcutt agreed and said his own father, a civil engineer, has said the Southern Distributor Road “is exactly that – it’s a distributor road”.
“It was not designed to motorway standards, it has a low speed limit.
“It has a lot of roundabouts,” he said.
Bob Poole, cabinet member for education, said it was “absolutely crazy”.
The discussion came up during an item about a new regional strategic framework for South East Wales, which was backed by the cabinet.
It sets out a “vision and strategy” for the economy of South East Wales and is the result of the work of 10 local authorities stretching from Bridgend in the west to Monmouthshire in the east.
Cllr Ray Truman, deputy leader, said decision making “is always better at a local level” but said he was open minded about it.
Cllr Debbie Wilcox, cabinet member for leisure and culture, commended the report, saying collaboration “isn’t going to go away”.
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