02/09/2023

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

A CONGESTION charge won’t be coming to Swansea any time soon, council leader Rob Stewart has said.

He said he didn’t want to discourage people from visiting the city, but was keen for more alternative forms of travel to be developed.

His comments were in response to a question by Cllr Joe Hale, whose St Thomas ward borders the busy Fabian Way, at a scrutiny committee meeting.

“It’s at a standstill five days a week – or it used to be,” said Cllr Hale.

“Now you can stroll across Fabian Way. It’s an absolute pleasure to walk across to SA1.

“If there was, say, a one-road congestion charge do you think that could be sustainable?”

The Swansea Labour leader said his short answer was “no”.

He said: “I’ve always believed in the carrot rather than the stick.”

He said he was keen for Government investment in a proposed metro-style transport project for the Swansea Bay area, which could deliver new railway stations, extra services, and more bus options.

He also said better cycling and walking provision would be good, adding that he had recently become a bike “convert”.

Cllr Stewart said more home working by employees of the council and other big organizations could reduce traffic by as much as 30%, according to some estimates.

He added: “I don’t want to put barriers up to people coming to Swansea.

“I want to make sure it’s easier for them to come in ways which don’t damage the environment, rather than going for the stick of fining them for trying to come into the city.”

In January Cardiff Council announced proposals for a £2 charge for non-residents entering the city by 2024, in a bid to reduce congestion and pollution.

Air quality improved in UK towns and cities following the coronavirus lockdown.

Traffic is building again as lockdown measures ease and public transport grapple with social distancing requirements.

Speaking at the scrutiny meeting, Cllr Peter Jones cited improved air quality as one of the upsides “of an otherwise dreadful period”.

He said more areas of parks and green spaces were being left to their own devices, and wondered if there were ongoing lessons for the natural environment and biodiversity that could be taken forward.

“Clearly there are,” replied Cllr Stewart.

He said he welcomed councilors’ views on less grass-cutting and weed-spraying.

“I don’t think it is a one size fits all approach to this,” he said.

“I would like (elected) members to make their own choices and reflect the views of their communities, but certainly, if communities want us to do less we are more than happy to work with them on that.”

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