Local residents and anyone who has visited Monmouth recently will be aware of the challenging situation that the current combination of roadworks is creating.  We have known for a year that Welsh Water would be replacing the old cast iron pipework in and around the town and replacing it with more modern plastic pipes.  This investment is welcome and long overdue, but admittedly it is causing disruption.  Welsh Water have engaged with residents and local councillors and from my experience their communications have been proactive and regular.


But the situation has been made worse due to the recent landslide on the A40 north of Monmouth, the Welsh Government’s A40 night closures between Raglan and Monmouth and by actions of Monmouthshire County Council.  It makes no sense that despite knowing about the Welsh Water works for a year, council bosses decided this would be a great time to remodel the junction of Wonastow Road, Drybridge Street and Rockfield Road and install a cycle lane.  Three-way traffic lights have been installed and are routinely causing congestion, especially around rush hour.


The evidence from Monnow Street businesses is that footfall is significantly reduced due to the disruption and it’s regrettable that council action is making this worse.  In council, my team has been supporting our colleague Cllr Jane Lucas who has been leading the fight for the council to take urgent action to support businesses.  Jane has been championing free parking to encourage shoppers back to the town, but this has continued to fall on deaf ears.


Bizarrely, the council is bringing forward a free parking scheme, but not to support businesses but they say it’s to help school pupils with their exams.  The scheme lasts three weeks and is in just two car parks in town.  One of those three weeks is during half term when there are no exams taking place and while exams continue to the end of June, the scheme ends on May 31.  It feels like a poor alternative to an attractive free parking offer to encourage shoppers into town to support businesses that have had a difficult few months through no fault of their own.  Of course, the best thing to support small town centre businesses would be for the Welsh Government to reform business rates, but this doesn’t seem to be on their agenda at the moment.  We will continue to do all we can to protect local businesses.