THE NEWSDESK: Stop keeping the people of Newport in the dark about the Nato summit
IT IS now very clear that the Nato summit will bring significant disruption to residents and businesses in Newport.
Our story on Saturday revealed that authorities say there will be significant congestion during the September 4 to 5 summit, and Newport council is advising of a peak late on September 4.
Summit organisers will be moving large numbers of delegates to their hotels on the evening of September 4, while others will be heading to events outside the Celtic Manor Resort.
A note on Newport council’s website reads: “It is currently anticipated that peak disruption is likely to occur on the M4 between the Severn Bridge and Cardiff (in both directions) on the late afternoon and evening of Thursday September 4.”
It goes on: “Motorists should aim to avoid this route completely if at all possible, especially for local journeys around Newport during this time, as it is expected there may still be potentially significant and unavoidable congestion.
“Please consider walking, cycling, car sharing or using public transport for all journeys over these two days and remember to allow extra time for travel.”
A spokeswoman for insurance firm Admiral said it is going to encourage its 450 staff in Newport city centre to “travel by public transport or car share with colleagues, and to allow extra time for their journey”.
Insurance comparison site GoCompare, which is also based in Newport, said possible options include working from home and flexible start and finish times.
And, of course, we have already revealed that schools in the city may be closed because of the transport difficulties.
Many people will face having to work from home because of childcare issues, or trying to get childcare which is now going to be at a premium for those days.
We are getting information, in piecemeal form, from the council and police when they are told it. What we are not getting is any good communication directly from Downing Street which is organising this summit.
We are getting the spin that this is good for the city. That is all.
That is a matter of debate.
It is good for the Celtic Manor which is a business which employs hundreds of people - so in an indirect way, yes, it is good for this city.
It will be good when the thousands of journalists who are expected bring with them their expense accounts - provided they spend them in the city and not elsewhere. Along with the anticipated 20,000 protesters, who will also need to buy their lunches and stay somewhere.
Those are the plus sides.
But will many of those who attend even know they are in Newport? I find it hard to believe that Barack Obama will be going walkabout in Ringland, or that Francois Hollande will pop to Spytty.
And we should have been warned about the downsides to this summit long before now.
It is hardly the case that David Cameron and Downing Street are not aware of the bottleneck that is the M4 through Newport. Not when the Prime Minister came here himself to announce that Wales should "just get on with" building a new motorway.
It seems that in Westminster, there are a number of people sticking their fingers in their ears and pretending not to hear the difficulties being flagged up from the front line here in Newport.
And if I'm wrong, if these downsides are being taken seriously and planned for properly, how am I to know? How are any of us?
Where's the communication?
When Gwent's Chief Constable Jeff Farrar says he has not been given all the information, as he did in a recent Argus story from the Gwent Police and Crime Panel, what chance do ordinary folk like us have?
Dear Downing Street - stop treating the people of Newport like mushrooms, stop keeping us in the dark, and start giving us realistic information about this event.