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‘Abandoned and Betrayed’ by council and local politicians

Dear Editor,

Residents of Sandy Road face abandonment and betrayal by Carmarthenshire County Council who created the infrastructure problems with decades of poor planning consents, as well as being ignored by the ruling Welsh Labour Government and our political representatives, Lee Waters MS and Nia Griffith MP both of whom continuously refuse to answer our letters and emails, leaving us alone to face dire health issues not of our making.

The Council wish to build 210 houses in the North Dock area of Llanelli, they will benefit financially through council taxes. Sandy Road residents are being forced to face the road being widened in order to cram more traffic into this “bottle-neck” with a compulsory purchase scheme already decided beforehand, well before their “cosmetic exercise” consultation was established The contractors TrJ are asking other road user opinions. Many of these people don’t live anywhere near Sandy Road.

No thought for what the residents will suffer, more dangers with traffic congestion, more filthy air pollution increases, some by as much as 40% and far more vibration damage as heavier traffic gets closer to their homes.

©Mark Jennings

Lee Waters supports policies that won’t have an impact for many decades. How long do trees take to grow. By then many people will be knocking at the door of the stretched health service with respiratory problems. Sandy Road is suffering now, and has since the traffic fight started 40 years ago during the demolition of Duport Steel works in the 1980s.

Mr Waters is not representing the community that elected him. He is representing his own long term green agenda ahead of the health of those living through it now. He is letting down the very people he came to canvass votes from on a wet and windy Monday, days before the Senedd Election. The same people who feel he has bitterly betrayed them.

I have dealt with politicians all my life and commented that they will not give you a straight answer. They go to university to learn how to dodge and deflect questions that they do not wish to answer. The comment I made on social media recently never mentioned any individual politician, but Lee Waters was the only responder saying he always gives a straight answer and that my reaction was such because I didn’t like what he said.

I tested Mr Waters on his straight answers stance last week by asking the following:
(1) Show us the proof that Sandy Road by-pass (1.95km long) will cost £50 million when a 2.2km road newly built in Cross Hands costs £10.3 million
Why is he against the by-pass,
Why is he against a third exit out of the Stradey Estate
Why is he against an Eastern exit out from Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes

These are all measures that will ease the problems but true to form he hasn’t replied.

When you lend your vote to any politician the least you expect is that they recognise the one catastrophic issue all people in Llanelli recognise. Increasing traffic congestion and serious air pollution that Sandy Road residents face 24/7. Politicians are meant to help people not ignore them. Lee Waters knows a by-pass is the only way out but continues to ignore residents pleas for help. What are we to do? Smile and be happy that our children are growing up with all sorts of respiratory ailments that could end their lives after years of suffering so that a Government Minister can pursue his agenda

I wrote pleading with Health Minister Eluned Morgan on two occasions for all residents in Sandy Road to have a “health check” to ascertain the depth of respiratory illnesses in the street and she completely ignored our plea.

I also wrote to Climate Change Minster Julie James on two occasions pleading with her to make Sandy Road one of her “Special Cases” after a comment she made in the media about such cases. With all the development in and around the area to come. Over 1,000 houses, two hotels, a Wellness Centre, Play King and a Supermarket near Burry Port Harbour. You guessed it, like other Government Ministers she totally ignored my correspondence.

I received good encouragement from opposition politicians but as we have seen for the last 100 years Labour politicians believe that Llanelli is a safe seat that they couldn’t care less.

Mr Waters stated “you can’t please everybody”. But that surely doesn’t mean that Welsh Labour Government Ministers can ignore our genuine pleas for help.

Mr Waters advocates the reduction of speeds to 20mph to reduce pollution, but when is Sandy Road having this implemented?

The establishment of 20 mph speed limits is totally being ignored in both Denham Avenue and Maesycoed, with no speed bumps or cameras or speed traps. Who is going to enforce the 20 mph speed limit or is it just a “tick box exercise”?

How will planting more trees in Parc Howard benefit areas of heavy congestion and pollution? It will only help the residents and a Minister who by the way, lives close by, plan. Why not plant them all along the coastal road?

Sandy Road is an area that will continue to suffer with all sorts of health, congestion and pollution issues and be purposely ignored while Mr. Waters, the Welsh Labour Government, its Ministers and the County Council advocate a “Clean Air Policy” for all except Sandy Road. Thankfully we have at least one local press outlet that will publish the concerns of the people of Llanelli and thanks to Llanelli Online, we have all of our concerns documented on the record. It may prove useful when families attend court albeit in poor health with chronic asthma to bring a case against a negligent and complacent Welsh Government.

Sincerely, Ray Jones, Sandy Road

We contacted Nia Griffith  MP and she said: “I have every sympathy for the residents of Sandy Road. It is high time that the County Council took action to improve the flow of traffic along the road.  Back in 2018, many residents made suggestions about how to alleviate the traffic jams caused by the lights, including some very cheap, common-sense options, and we passed all those suggestions on to the County Council which has responsibility for this matter. I have continued to chase the matter up, but, although the County has employed consultants  who reported back just before lockdown, the queues remain. I will stress again the concerns of residents and commuters, and ask the County again to prioritise this issue.”

We also asked for a comment from the Minister for Climate Change Julie James MS, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS, Minister for Health Eluned Morgan MS and Carmarthenshire County Council.

A reply has been sent to Mr Jones from Welsh Government and reads as follows:

Thank you for your email of 30 August to the Minister for Climate Change and your emails of 30 August and 28 September to the Minister for Health and Social Services. I have been asked to reply.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your concerns.

As indicated in our previous correspondence, the Welsh Government is unable to intervene and review / appraise a proposal from Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) and from a transport network management perspective, no powers exist that would allow us step in and inform CCC that we intend to independently review their decisions and the documents / information that supported them. We would only normally assess such proposals if they might have an impact on adjacent sections of motorway or trunk road network.

In response to your suggestion that CCC has underestimated the true pollution figures, the Welsh Government can confirm that all Local Authority Annual Progress Reports (APRs), submitted under the requirements of the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) regime, are independently assessed. The Welsh Government is satisfied that air quality monitoring has been correctly undertaken in line with relevant LAQM procedures.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, announced a freeze on new road building projects, whilst a review of highway schemes across Wales is carried out. A review panel has been asked to consider setting tests for when new roads are the right solutions for transport problems in line with Llwybr Newydd, the recently published Wales transport strategy.

The panel will review all of our proposed road investments, whether funded directly by the Welsh Government on the strategic road network, or indirectly, by grants, on the local road network, so that all future projects align with the three priorities of the new transport strategy: to reduce the need to travel, to allow people and goods to move more easily from door to door by sustainable forms of transport, and to encourage people to make the change. With this in mind, Welsh Government Officials will speak to their counterparts at CCC about the issues you have raised and update you following these discussions.

In relation to the request to the Minister for Health and Social Services for a health survey for the residents of Sandy Road, advice has been sought from Public Health Wales (PHW). They advise it is important to note that such an approach would have limitations and would be unable to quantify air pollutant exposure effects. Since the health symptoms described are common, and likely influenced by external factors (for example, lifestyle and behavioural choices, as well as environmental stressors), it is often extremely difficult to attribute any effects to a specific cause. Further, the validity of a health survey approach in this context could be questioned given the small geographical area of focus and population size involved. On this basis, a health survey would not be recommended, but advice on this matter can be obtained from Public Health Wales as well as CCC and local health board. Should you have concerns about your own health, you should seek advice from your GP in the usual way.

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