POPULATION and housing projections should be challenged following a damning report which said traffic congestion had a bigger negative impact on local businesses in Cardiff than any other UK city.
The call came from Conservative councillor for Lisvane, David Walker, who called on the next council administration to challenge the government’s population projections for Cardiff in the context of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU.
Coun. Walker’s also asked for a reconsideration of the housing projections outlined in the council’s Land Development Plan (LDP) which relies on the population predictions. Thousands of new homes are expected to be built on greenfield sites in Cardiff as part of the LDP over the next decade.
The motion came after a report by traffic agency Inrix, which analysed the congestion and traffic of more than 1,000 cities worldwide in a study that was the largest of its kind.
The report showed that traffic congestion has a bigger negative impact on local businesses in Cardiff than in any other UK city.
Researchers also found that daytime congestion occurs in Cardiff 15% of the time and that drivers in the city spend an average of 32 hours a year stuck in jams at peak periods.
Speaking at the meeting, Coun Walker summarised the impact of congestion in cities like Cardiff and what could be done to minimise such costly effects.
“Traffic congestion cost the UK more than 30 billion pounds in 2016. This is an average of £1,000 for every driver in the UK,” he said.
“We need to start looking at transport solutions such as dynamic traffic lights and efficient planning of our road works. These new technologies, particularly the traffic lights, in London reduced congestion delays by 30%.”
The motion was seconded by Conservative councillor for Pontprennau & Old St Mellons, Dianne Rees, who outlined Cardiff’s traffic problem at last night’s meeting.
“We don’t have the longest jams but we do have jams that occur throughout the day, not just at peak times,” she said.
Labour Councillor for Canton Ramesh Patel said he would not be supporting the motion and objected to claims that the current administration were not providing solutions to combat congestion.
“We are delivering. The land development plan will contribute towards delivering all those things,” he argued.
“The LDP is here and it will stay. The fact of the matter is this – the city is growing. People want to live here, our children want to live here and our grandchildren want to live here.”
The independent councillor for Trowbridge, Ralph Cook, agreed that the city’s growth is something that cannot be avoided and that current housing projections outlined in the LDP should not be changed as a result.
“Whether there is another 40,000 homes build in Cardiff or not, we will see more traffic building up on the current congestion we have,” he said.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Plasnewydd, Robin Rea, argued that the motion was unfair towards immigrants moving to Cardiff.
“The motion demonises immigrants for the traffic problems. It is reminiscent of Nigel Farage’s crossing the bridge comments perhaps, all those immigrants that were stopping him from doing that – it’s not the case at all.
“Blaming immigrants for traffic problems in this city is unacceptable and it shouldn’t be allowed in this chamber.
“People who come to Wales to live, to learn, to love should not be blamed for our problems. We need an approach that gets people out of their cars and on their feet.”
The motion was rejected by the council.