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  • Lawrence Bailey

Are we still on the road to hell?



It’s a fact of life that there’s no such thing as urban redevelopment without controversy.

You’ll get mixed views on building design and size. Opinions will differ over usage and maybe the location. What’s guaranteed to create universal uproar though is for someone to mess with the roads.

All across the Evening Post area, there’s been a series of regeneration schemes where it looked as if the main aim was to screw up the traffic, even if planners genuinely had far more positive outcomes in mind.

Over the decades, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Neath and Port Talbot have all seen re-jigged road networks that have caused their own kind of chaos.

Yet where Swansea took confusion to a new level was in spending millions on ‘improvements’ which basically straightened out a series of junctions to accommodate a bendy-bus and then making nearly everything one-way.

Added to the grand design was a convoluted giant roundabout back and forth across the Tawe river bridges plus a costly ‘boulevard’ which functions as little more than a city-centre bypass.

I’m pleased to see however that at least some of those past mistakes are now to be corrected – although not everyone is happy with this prospect.

The history of how things reached this present stage makes little difference to most onlookers. They don’t much care how a previous administration opted for one arrangement only for their elected replacements to want it changed back. All people see is a prolonged mess.

Personally speaking, I’d prefer to go through the disruption of finally putting things right rather than continue to live with a set-up that does nothing to enhance the place and has even been lethal in some instances.

As I’ve previously written, it’s all about bringing life back to the city centre. This has never been more important as this dreadful pandemic continues to change our lives in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined.

Purely by happenstance, it’s precisely seven years to the day that I first kicked off this column. I began by posing the query, “If the answer is 'boulevards', then what's the question?

I’d say the jury is still firmly out on that one; but if the road to hell is paved with good intentions then it’s clear there’s no current shortage of material.

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Scrap the Senedd campaign stalls in Swansea

It’s said that turkeys seldom vote for Christmas. Well, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion - and whether or not they get a vote.

This sentiment probably applies to Brexit Party supporters in Swansea who find themselves at odds with a party hierarchy that has declared an intention to scrap the Senedd. The pronouncement has angered local activists (there is no actual membership) mostly because this is the first they’ve heard of it.

Observers reckon BP leadership is manoeuvring to occupy ground held by the official Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. They gained 4.5% of the regional votes in 2016 – more than the Greens. The abolitionists also received a boost of sorts when former Ukip group leader Gareth Bennett recently joined their ranks.

A Brexit Party spokesman stated that a viable alternative to the devolution settlement is to return key powers to Westminster and install directly elected mayors throughout Wales.

No mention though how existing legislation requires that both moves would need a referendum. It seems that turkey’s don’t do irony either.

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