Promises by the Welsh Government that an assessment of the trial closure of junction 41 will be published this month, will not bring the saga to a conclusion after all the First Minister has told Regional Assembly Member, Peter Black. He said today that a decision on permanent closure will be made later in the year, possibly after a full public consultation.
The First Minister was answering questions from Assembly Members representing the area of Neath Port Talbot on the on-going closure of the junction and its impact on local roads and businesses. The Welsh Government has previously promised that a full assessment of the trial will be published by the end of May, but had not been clear until today that the decision on the junction’s future will not be taken until later.
Commenting on the response, Peter Black said: “The closure of junction 41 has had an adverse impact on the town of Port Talbot with local roads clogged up with traffic, journey times for residents being extended by anything from 15 minutes to an hour and a 20% drop in footfall for local shops.
“We had all hoped that the promise of a statement this month would at least have brought some certainty as to the future of this junction so as to enable people to plan accordingly. That now seems to have been a forlorn hope.
“It is likely that junction 41 will remain closed until a final decision is made and that this could be some considerable time away. My concern is that the uncertainty caused by this extended decision-making period will hit trade in the town centre even more and create an inevitability of permanent closure. That is not acceptable.
“We need a clear timetable leading up to when a final decision will be taken so that people are able to understand the process the Welsh Labour Government is following and have a date to work to.”