New £1.3m cycle path on Anglesey a luxury while roads crumble, critics claim

A section of the new multi-user path being installed at the junction of the B4545 and Lon Isallt, Trearddur Bay
A section of the new multi-user path being installed at the junction of the B4545 and Lon Isallt, Trearddur Bay -Credit:David Soutter

The creation of a new 2.5-mile multi-user path on Anglesey is dividing opinions in two communities affected. Designed to encourage walking and cycling, motorists have mourned the loss of road space and have questioned whether the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

Others have welcomed ongoing works to build an active travel link between Holyhead and the square in Trearddur Bay. As well as getting people fit, saving NHS funding, supporters argue the scheme will boost tourism and local businesses.

Roadworks are rarely embraced but drivers have been particularly irked by those currently taking place in Trearddur Bay. Critics have labelled the scheme a “complete waste of money”, a luxury at a time of crumbling roads, over-stretched hospitals and under-funded schools.

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“There are roads around here that seriously need maintenance work,” said one man on social media. “Yet they are determined to work on mindless projects like making pavements bigger and roads narrower. The clowns are definitely in control.”

In June 2023, the Welsh Government awarded an extra £58m to get more people walking and cycling. On Anglesey, active travel schemes included one between Malltraeth and Newborough costing £250,000. Another was a £158,000 package for improvements in Llanfairpwll.

But by far the biggest tranche of funding went to the Holyhead-Trearddur Bay scheme, part of the North Wales Metro, which was awarded £1.34m. Initially, the work is focused on connecting the two communities, from the Tesco roundabout at Holyhead Retail Park to Trearddur Bay.

Later, links will be added to facilities along the route, including Holyhead Leisure Centre, Parc Cybi and Trearddur Bay Square. Future plans, yet to be developed, include work on the A55 overbridge at junction 2 in Holyhead. Ultimately, the aim is to improve active travel links with Holyhead railway station and the town’s ferry terminal.

A consultation was held last autumn but the appearance of roadwork has been taxing the patience of some motorists in the area. Pensioners, mums with prams and wheelchair users are also experiencing some disruption. Concerns have also been raised over potential delays to Trearddur Bay lifeboat crews responding to call-outs.

Planned route of a multi-user active travel route (blue line) linking Holyhead with Trearddur Bay
Planned route of a multi-user active travel route (blue line) linking Holyhead with Trearddur Bay -Credit:Anglesey Council

Many have questioned whether the work is needed. “I don’t know one person in Holyhead who would prefer a cycle path to decent roads and pavements in a good state of repair,” said one man on Facebook. “Or even clean alleyways and lanes cleared, tidied up and freed of overgrowth and dirt.”

Another was equally scathing. “I find it unbelievable that the money is being spent on an unnecessary project that will be hardly used,” he said. The North Wales Live Whatsapp community for top stories and breaking news is live now - here’s how to sign up

“How can we allow the council to fritter money away whilst our schools are in the poorest performing education rankings, our health service is an utter disaster zone and social care is underfunded? Surely there should be prioritisation of where funds are spent especially in these economically challenged times?”

Scheme funding was ring-fenced for active travel projects and so cannot be spent elsewhere by Anglesey Council. Legislation dating back to 2013 requires all local authorities in Wales to continuously improve active travel routes so that people can more easily get around by walking or cycling. Some people see it as an anti-car agenda designed to get more peoople out of their vehicles.

“They’re making the roads smaller for cars, and pavements bigger,” said another person. “I pay nearly £700 in road tax yet I’m still swerving all over the place dodging potholes. Cyclists pay zero yet get all new cycle lanes, where is the balance in that?”

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), commonly called road tax, was ring-fenced for road maintenance and improvements only until 1937. This was restored in 2015 and three years later a National Roads Fund was launched to ring-fence VED in England. This policy was cancelled earlier this year, leaving road maintenance to be paid out of general taxation.

The idea of rolling out wider multi-user pavements has plenty of support. As well as easing pollution in the long run, extra crossings are being installed to help vulnerable road users, from schoolchildren to people with disabilities.

For many residents, current roadworks are a short-term inconvenience that will bring long-term benefits. Cyce path advocates claim too many people use cars for short journeys when walking or cycling would be a “better option”. Get the best island stories from our Anglesey newsletter - sent every Friday

One woman said the scheme was “fabulous”. She added: “Very much needed for safety reasons. I was once knocked off my bike in Trearddur Bay, during the ridiculously busy summer season. Anything that helps people get out and about safely, which in turn improves wellbeing, gets a big thumbs-up from me!”

Another person agreed: “Good for health, gets us all fitter, so saves money on health long term,” he said. “Increases tourism, more money to businesses, shops and jobs. Well done Wales!”

Anglesey Council was approached for comment. A spokesperson said: "The scheme to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in the Holyhead area is part of the Transport for Wales North Wales Metro Programme, which aims to improve connectivity across the North Wales region.

“The grant is funded by Welsh Government to deliver the aims and objectives of The Wales Transport Strategy (Llwybr Newydd) to create an improved transport system that promotes modal shift as well as assisting in meeting net zero targets by decarbonizing the transport sector. The funding can only be used in accordance with grant criteria and cannot be used for any other purposes.”

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