It is important that any council listens to what its residents have to say, and I very much hope Monmouthshire Council heeds the concerns being raised in Monmouth over the lack of consultation to close the Wye Bridge for up to five weeks.
Locals and businesses on both side of the river have come together to make their voices heard. Completely shutting the bridge to vehicular traffic while resurfacing work is carried out will sever the link between Wyesham and Monmouth – splitting the town in two. This is going to have a massive impact on day-to-day life and people are right to question how all aspects of social care will function without a bridge. One expectant mother from Wyesham, who is due to give birth during the planned closure, has been left feeling extremely uneasy knowing the primary connection to the A40 dual carriageway will be cut off. In the event of an emergency or getting to The Grange University Hospital in good time when she goes into labour, the rather extensive diversionary route is simply not a suitable option. I was out on Saturday helping to collect more signatures for a petition which will be handed into the council on Thursday by members of the local community who are anxious for their views to be taken into consideration.
Over in Abergavenny, the battle to reopen Tudor Street day centre continues. An expert review found ample evidence to bring Tudor Street back into use for vulnerable adults with learning difficulties, yet Monmouthshire County Council is dragging its feet and continuing to look at alternatives such as the Melville Theatre and Abergavenny Community Centre. Campaigners and service users, who tell me they have been left feeling isolated and abandoned by the closure of Tudor Street, desperately want the centre back and firmly believe it is the only venue that ticks all the boxes. The council needs to recognise the value of Tudor Street as a building - not just a service - to the people of Abergavenny and should be working with campaigners as a partner to get the centre up and running again instead of viewing them as opponents.
Further down in Chepstow, a bypass is essential to unlocking the traffic chaos and air pollution blighting the town. While in the Severnside corner of Monmouthshire, reasonable concerns are being aired about plans for potential traveller sites at Langley Close near to the M4 in Magor and land west of Dancing Hill in Undy, both of which are wholly unsuitable. Residents are speaking out in legitimate protest on these issues. But will Labour-led Monmouthshire County Council listen?