Following the gridlock in Monnow Street last Friday, (Feb 23), Monmouth’s Chamber of Commerce has pleaded for shoppers to continue supporting traders in the town.

Monmouth Chamber of Commerce said that they opposed any proposal to make Monnow Street permanently one-way for the past two years on the grounds that it would create untold problems for shoppers, delivery, and emergency vehicles.

They went on to say that unlike most other towns, Monmouth has only one principal thoroughfare and when the customary two-way route is suspended, the only means of joining up the circuit is by means of the A40.

“When, during and in the immediate aftermath of Covid, Monmouthshire County Council experimented with the idea of keeping a narrow carriageway on the high street and making it one-way, the town experienced countless tailbacks, and the Chamber fought for reinstatement to two-way during this period, even though the pandemic had significantly reduced the number of vehicles in the town.

“The Chamber’s concerns were entirely vindicated last Friday when traffic was brought to a complete standstill resulting from a combination of the present one-way, lights-controlled system, and gridlock on the dual carriageway. During this time, as motorists became frustrated by unprecedented delays, appointments were missed, collections and deliveries became impossible, and school buses failed to meet their pick-up schedule.

“Had there been a major incident in the middle of the town, such as the fire that gutted Peacock’s, firefighting vehicles would not have been able to get there,” they said.

The President and Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, who represent the business community in a purely voluntary capacity, say they were inundated during the day with emails and telephone calls from their business members, whose trading is being dramatically impacted by the work undertaken by Welsh Water.

“This has been made worse by Monmouthshire County Council’s roadworks in Drybridge Street and Rockfield Road.”

Although the Dwr Cymru programme is essential to the continued delivery of clean water, the mounting problems have demanded ongoing talks between the Chamber and representatives of Welsh Water and MCC to try mitigating the consequential hardships.

“Of particular concern is the knowledge that Monmouth will be subjected to traffic restrictions for a long time. The general belief is that the town faces these hardships until the end of March but realistically they will continue throughout the year as work extends into the pinch-point, and through all the other streets as far as the junction of Hereford Road, Dixton Road and Monk Street.

Shops and offices are already suffering dreadfully from reduced footfall, with some reporting that their takings are down by a staggering 90 per cent! For any business, large or small, this is unsustainable. The Chamber, supported by our MP David Davies, has been petitioning for a rates moratorium to provide some financial assistance for businesses, and for a suspension or reduction of parking charges to encourage continued support by customers and clients.

“We are all aware that driving in Monmouth is painful, but the Chamber is urging people to recognise that all the businesses remain open and are in desperate need of continued support to help them survive. The Chamber would also really appreciate less negativity on social media. If the town is boycotted, the shops, offices, and even healthcare facilities may be forced to close and never return. Please continue to shop local for the future of our lovely town,” she asked.