A COMMITTEE which addresses the management of the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) hasn’t achieved much, according to its own vice-chairman.
Steve Heard said he felt it was only told “what is convenient” and that it wasn’t treated seriously.
He was addressing a meeting of the Gower AONB Partnership Steering Group, which comprises Swansea councillors and officers, and also representatives from organisations including community councils, the Gower Society and Natural Resources Wales.
Updates on investment in Clyne Valley Country Park – including cycle path schemes – and a potential new community building in Port Eynon were given at the meeting.
Some members felt there was a general lack of consultation, and that the steering group itself didn’t carry much weight.
Particular reference was made to new shared-use cycle paths in the 700-acre country park and on nearby Mayals Road, which some residents feel they’ve had no say over.
Mr Heard, who is not a Swansea councillor, said such plans suddenly appeared when money became available.
“As an AONB steering group, we know nothing about these plans at all,” he said.
It made him wonder what impact the committee had.
“It appears not a great deal,” he said. “We are not told very much. We are only told, more or less, what is convenient, and we certainly are not having much of a voice into what actually comes about.
“And I’m actually quite concerned about that.”
Mr Heard added: “I really do think that we’re not actually being treated with any seriousness.
“And I don’t actually think at the moment we’re achieving a great deal.”
Group chairman, Cllr Paul Lloyd, said: “We need to pull everyone together – all different departments – to have a cohesive plan to manage that part of the AONB.”
A member of volunteer group, Clyne Valley Community Project, said there was “uproar locally” about the upgrade of a 2.5km link from Olchfa Lane into Clyne Woods, and claimed communication about the council’s cycle path scheme had been “dreadful”.
But she said work being done by the authority in the country park more generally was “great”.
Work on the new shared-use path, which will join up with the Blackpill to Gowerton cycle route – with a spur linking onto Rhyd-Y-Defaid Drive in Derwen Fawr – is due to get under way in January.
Contractors are also set to make a start on the new shared-use path on Mayals Road next month.
Cllr Mark Child said the council received Welsh Government funding for these “active travel” schemes on an annual basis, and that the chances of further funding were “much reduced” if the money was not spent in the financial year in which it was allocated.
Cllr Child also said he hadn’t heard anyone arguing against the principle of a cycle path on Mayals Road, although there were technical differences of opinion.
“I think people have been stirred up completely unnecessarily,” he said.
Cllr Child said if it encouraged cycling, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and made people healthier, “I don’t see what the argument is against it”.