COMMUTERS in Newport are spending on average 24 hours per year stuck in traffic at peak times – the highest in Wales.

Although behind the UK average of 39 hours, figures from INRIX, the transport analytics company, suggest the cost to motorists is £722 and £44m to the city per year.

The city ranked 16th across the UK in terms of hours spent annually in traffic, higher than its neighbouring M4 cities and towns of Cardiff (29th), Swansea (64th) and Bridgend (80th).

Wrexham (64th) and Deganwy (77th) were the other Welsh places to achieve a ranking of the 87 UK conurbations on the list.

Dr Graham Cookson, the chief economist at INRIX, said: “Drivers in Newport spent seven per cent of their time in congestion with commuters spending almost 24 peak hours a year stuck in traffic – the most in Wales.

"Whilst this is significantly below the UK average of 39 hours, congestion still cost Newport motorists an average of £722 each in 2016.

"Congestion is particularly high in Newport during peak hours within the city at 17 per cent which is higher than major UK cities like Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield or Glasgow.

"Overall congestion in Newport is among the worst in Wales.”

Russell George AM, the Welsh Conservatives' shadow economy secretary said, “The Welsh Government needs to get Wales moving again.

“Gridlock is taking its toll on the Welsh economy, and Welsh businesses and motorists are bearing the brunt of Labour’s failure to get it under control.

“Central to that is making urgent progress on the M4 relief road, but the cabinet secretary also needs to get a grip on the projects already underway – the biggest of which has gone massively over budget and deadline

“Eighteen uninterrupted years of Labour rule may have dented public confidence in the Welsh Government’s ability to improve transport infrastructure, but the stakes are simply too high to ignore the problem.

“The crisis demands innovation and action, without which motorists will continue to face car-maggedon on a daily basis.”

A spokesman for Ken Skates AM, the cabinet secretary for the economy and transport, said: “It takes some cheek for the Tories to complain about Welsh congestion in 2017 given that in the last 12 months their own UK Conservative Government have reneged on their promise to electrify the rail line to Swansea and refused to devolve powers over rail infrastructure and Air Passenger Duty that could have supported service improvements, whilst at the same time committing a further £30bn for another Crossrail project across London.

“This Assembly term will see the biggest Welsh Government investment in infrastructure since devolution, with major sustainable transport projects proposed or underway.

"This year will see the Welsh Government procure its first rail service provider, take forward its ambitious plans for Metro services in both South and North East Wales, and continue progress on major schemes such as upgrades of the Heads of the Valley road and the A55/A494.

“The Welsh Conservatives would be better served putting more of their energies in 2018 into pressing their UK Conservative Government colleagues for fairer transport funding for Wales as opposed to criticising Welsh Government projects which are happening and which will have a real impact in reducing traffic and better connecting communities.”

Dr Cookson added: "Congestion is harmful to the environment and our pockets wasting fuel and time, and releasing additional greenhouse gasses.

"And like death and taxes, congestion has become unavoidable for most motorists.

"Governments at all levels should be using data such as this to prioritise infrastructure spending on the most congested cities and roads.”