UK TRANSPORT Secretary Mark Harper has blasted his own constituency's Green-led Forest Council after it narrowly voted against plans for a Chepstow bypass.
A motion backing the scheme was defeated by a single vote last week, 17-16 with the support of the Labour group, with one Cabinet member labelling the bid 'a road to nowhere'.
The Wyeside town has some of the worst air pollution in Wales, due to the amount of traffic travelling over the Wye Bridge towards the M48 Severn Bridge every day, with long queues on a daily basis.
And Forest MP Mr Harper has now said: "I was disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to learn that the Green-run Forest of Dean District Council, supported by the Labour Party, voted against plans to support a Chepstow bypass.
"During the last full council meeting, Conservative Cllr Nick Evans for Tidenham put forward the following motion: “That the Forest of Dean District Council supports the creation of the Chepstow bypass as a gateway to the Forest of Dean.”
"This motion was voted against by Green and Labour councillors. The traffic congestion around Chepstow may not bother those who voted against this motion, but it does impact hundreds and hundreds of my constituents every day.
"A bypass is essential to unblocking this pinch point to allow hard-working people to get on with their lives, rather than frequently being stuck in slow-moving traffic."
He added: "We all want to encourage economic growth and greater investment in the Forest, that is why it is disappointing that the Green Party and the Labour Party do not support a Chepstow bypass."
Referring to an agreement last year between Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire Councils to progress proposals for a bypass, which would straddle the England Wales border across the Wye, he added: "I am pleased that Conservative-controlled Gloucestershire County Council is in favour of a bypass and has committed to a WelTAG Stage 3 report that will see the project progress further.
"Conservatives across the River Wye have also been championing the cause for a bypass."
"Once the reports have been completed, the two county councils will be able to submit funding bids to the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport.
"As Secretary of State for Transport, I would be unable to look at the bid myself, as the project would be within my constituency, but another minister within the department would be able to look at it.
"The best way to make progress, and get this project over the line, would have been for all of us to work together and speak with a united voice.
"However, in the Forest of Dean it is now only the Conservatives that support plans for a Chepstow Bypass."
Forest Council Economy cabinet member Jonathan Lane (Green, Tidenham) agreed that congestion was a real blight on the lives of the people who live in his ward at last week's council meeting,
But he said while the bypass had some support from residents, talk of a Chepstow bypass has been ongoing since the 1980s and nothing had happened.
“The Welsh Government scrapped all major road schemes so alas when we discuss a bypass or a new road we, literally and metaphorically, sound like Talking Heads, we’re on a road to nowhere.”
He also said people wanted a practical solution and that any benefits of road schemes in terms of congestion relief were short lived while damaging the environment.