I started, before coming into public service, a Facebook group on the need for a Bypass for Chepstow and Sedbury. I also started petitions to the Welsh and UK governments to try and get the topic into discussion. The group has been a fantastic experience for me as I’ve seen my own views change, not just based on the opinions of members, but on having my eyes opened to the cross border nature of the issue.
I still feel a Bypass for the area is a vital part of any solution to issues of resilience in Chepstow’s roads, as well as to tackle the Air Quality disaster that is Hardwick Hill. To that end I am lobbying Welsh Government to model traffic flow and demands, cross border, in the event of bridge tolls being scrapped and with the inclusion of 950 potential new homes at Beachley. Such evidence will be critical to deciding if a bypass really is the best solution. I’m also engaged with local train transport groups and the Monmouthshire Strategic Transport Group which, as of writing, is particularly busy as we are attempting to help Welsh Government define the franchise requirements for the line that services us and our English counterparts further up the line.
This is vital as the franchise requirements are the service that a new supplier, to be chosen at the end of this year, will have to live up to. Our priorities in this can be put broadly as: More trains and direct trains to Bristol from Chepstow.
The detail is vastly more complicated, of course, and dependant on a bewildering variety of influences including what goes into the requirements for neighbouring franchises.
We are incredibly lucky though, we have a dedicated band of volunteers who are extremely knowledgable and a County Council that wants to work in unison with them. This franchise situation is something I should be reporting back on very soon.
The best place for updates on this topic is the Facebook group, though I will try to periodically update a summary of the information from there into this page.