In May the Roads Minister, Andrew Jones MP, visited North Shropshire to see for himself the dire state of the A5 and to assess the proposal to build a bypass round Pant and Llanymynech on the A483. It was very constructive with representatives of every part of the community turning out with helpful supportive evidence.
I want to ensure that the new team at the Department for Transport understand the details of this campaign, as the misery caused by accidents needs to end. Last week I met the Transport minister John Hayes MP, to update him on my long running campaign to dual the whole of the A5 and build a Pant/Llanymynech Bypass.
The information provided by West Mercia Police is shocking. There have been almost 1,500 casualties on the A5 in the last 25 years, 49 of which were fatal and these casualties disproportionately affect my constituents as almost half of those involved in an accident were from the local area. The estimated total cost to the public purse is a staggering £172.8 million. Last month alone saw multiple injuries, including a young girl hospitalised, from a number of crashes. There has already been another death since the Minister came to visit in May. Accidents will decrease if we dual the A5, as dualled roads are statistically safer than single track.
Dangerous accidents, along with unpredictable and debilitating traffic, are affecting local businesses. A good road network is vital to any economy; improvements must be made.
The Minister has agreed to visit in February as the Government is looking into small projects that have a great impact on local economies. It is unprecedented for two transport ministers to visit within one year and John Hayes’s experience as an MP for a rural seat stands us in good stead.
The second Road Investment Strategy, known as RIS 2, covers investment in England’s motorways and major roads. RIS 2 is still in its first research phase but a decision phase is to begin next spring.
My staff met with Highways England last week and I will be meeting their Divisional Director for Strategy and Planning in the coming weeks to press them further on their upcoming strategy, which will involve projects both large and small.
The Pant/Llanymynech Bypass has been a difficult conundrum to fix as it is a strategic Welsh road yet the danger and the cost fall in England. John Hayes is aware of this and he is open-minded when it comes to finding a solution. Highways England are meeting the Welsh Government this week to continue discussions.
Bringing the A5 and the A483 up to modern standards must be a priority for the whole area.