Will a Labour-led council have any influence over a Labour health minister in Cardiff Bay? I await the answer with interest after Monmouthshire County Council voted to oppose the proposed overnight closure of the Minor Injury Unit at Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hospital. Now that the council is lined up with myself, Peter Fox MS and the 5,000 signatories of a petition on the Senedd website, we need the Labour administration to speak with Eluned Morgan and send a clear message to Aneurin Bevan University Health Board about the importance of keeping a 24-hour minor injury service that serves north Monmouthshire. It makes no sense to force people to travel in the middle of the night all the way to The Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport for treatment – ironically past Nevill Hall and The Grange University Hospital at Llanfrechfa. I’m concerned this will put increased pressure on The Grange, which we all know is not up to standard. Indeed, I received another appalling healthcare complaint over the weekend. Politics should be put aside here so we can work together and take a firm stand against the further stripping back of our local services.
Unfortunately, we are not quite so aligned over the issue of housebuilding. Given the significant and well documented infrastructure problems facing Chepstow, I am astounded that Monmouthshire County Council has voted to include the possible development of land between Mounton Road and Highbeech roundabout in the Replacement Local Development Plan Preferred Strategy. Quite frankly, it is an incredibly short-sighted decision to even contemplate building 150 new houses. Chepstow would simply be unable to cope with additional demand. The town is already gridlocked with traffic congestion and suffers from shocking air quality. I have repeatedly said a Chepstow bypass is the only long-term solution, but the Welsh Labour Government is refusing to build any new roads for “environmental” reasons. Since taking up office in May 2022, the Labour-run council has made zero progress after the former Conservative-led administration formed an agreement between border authorities and MPs for the ambitious project. Calls for improvements to be made to Highbeech roundabout to tackle the bottleneck when travelling from the A48 towards the M48 Severn Bridge have also been ignored, while the Welsh Labour Government dealt a hammer blow to Chepstow last year by turning down funding yet again for a study to look at and alleviate these issues. It is clear to all that the infrastructure in Chepstow is insufficient and a major constraint to new housing. I therefore strongly oppose these plans and urge the council to reconsider.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 01 November 2023 and Abergavenny Chronicle on 02 November 2023*