A Labour council is continuing its relentless attack on motorists by planning to introduce congestion charges in four market towns.
Monmouthshire County Council has already come under heavy criticism after local MP David Davies highlighted a proposal in its draft transport plan to reinstate tolls on the Severn bridges linking England and Wales.
Now he has homed in on another policy buried on page 57 of the Local Transport Plan 2024-29 headed ‘Roads, Streets and Parking’ which states there is a plan to develop ‘a strategy for congestion and emissions zones that promote cleaner air’.
Mr Davies said the “only possible interpretation” of this strategy is to introduce congestion charging across the four market towns of Abergavenny, Monmouth, Chepstow and Caldicot.
“The whole tone of the document is anti-car right the way through and now we have another clear intention spelt out in black and white to bring in congestion charges, as has happened in London and elsewhere,” he said.
“There isn’t much detail, but you get the gist. It is quite frankly an appalling idea and will deal a devastating blow to residents.
“Monmouthshire is a rural county with poor bus and rail links. For many people, a car is their only form of reliable transport.
“Under these plans, those living in one market town who perhaps drive to another for work and then visit family and friends in a third could end up being charged several times in a day.
“The Labour-run council seems intent on financially punishing those who drive. I expect Labour councillors will try and wriggle out of it, as they did over Severn Bridge tolls, but there is no denying it is written in plain sight for all to see.”
On page 57, the document states: “Our Local Transport Plan reflects our commitment to creating a transportation network that not only ensures the safety and efficient movement of all road users but also prioritises and promotes sustainable choices such as active travel and public transport.
“Through strategic planning, collaboration, and continuous improvement, we aim to create a road and street environment that enhances the quality of life for our residents and visitors while contributing to a greener, healthier future for Monmouthshire.”
The plan also adds: “We aim to deliver schemes that will reallocate road space, particularly within the four market towns, prioritising pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport, creating safer and more accessible environments.”
Mr Davies said he would be asking Cllr Catrin Maby, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment, to provide further detail on the strategy for congestion and emissions zones.
“First and foremost, the council would not publish a document containing proposals it was unhappy with,” he said.
“Labour councillors must have an idea of how much a congestion charge would cost and they need to say so. I am not just an MP but a local resident too and people have a right to know how much they are going to be charged for driving around their own county.
“Labour leader Mary Ann Brocklesby has been very vocal in defending her council’s plan, whereas the Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment remains conspicuously silent.
“I would urge all residents with concerns about these proposals to email Monmouthshire County Council as soon as possible and express their opinion.”