In strong criticism of political gamesmanship, a council leader today put a lid on a concerted campaign of misinformation about Seven bridge tolls.

Councillor Mary Ann Brocklesby said that the Tory opposition leader Councillor Richard John had selected items from a long list of options for discussion suggested by the public and presented them, entirely falsely, as the council’s proposals.

“What we have done is to defeat a totally mischievous motion which was merely there to try to embarrass us. This is no way to serve the people of Monmouthshire or be sensitive to the environment, which needs and gets our protection”, said Councillor Brocklesby, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council.

“Instead, we have seen off a blatant party-political ruse which makes entirely false claims.

“In consigning this issue to the bin, let us make it abundantly clear once again that this administration never had any plans, secret or otherwise, to lobby for the reintroduction of tolls on the Severn crossings.”

Councillor Brocklesby added that she was saddened that Councillor Richard John had mis-used a council session in “a cynical, negative and time-wasting way.”    

Councillor Catrin Maby, the cabinet member responsible for climate change and the environment, added: “What we do have is an honest and open approach to public consultation. Unlike those who only pretend to listen to their electorates, we genuinely want to ask the people whom we represent for their ideas about proposals and options.

“To do this in a thorough and effective way, we may sometimes prompt discussions by raising hypothetical situations.”

Councillor Brocklesby explained that Councillor John had taken his “blatant red herring” from a long list of options under the heading ‘schemes subject to review and further consideration’ – and re-branded them as MCC proposals. 

“This long list emerged from discussion with local stakeholders and transport industry professionals during workshops, and it was clearly stated in the draft plan that these do not meet the core criteria for delivery.

“Nor are we now  – or were ever - planning to impose restrictive congestion or emissions zones.”

Councillor Maby added: “Actually, being sensitive to all residents, we understand the need for ways to combat congestion hotspots and promote cleaner air. There is nothing sinister about this idea. As examples, Hardwick Hill and High Beech in Chepstow are just such areas.

The local transport plan for 2024-29 has been developed to inform and influence a forthcoming wider regional plan, to ensure that Monmouthshire’s needs are fully understood and recognised.