The Welsh Government is rightly keen that people should be able to use public transport. Welsh Labour, the ruling party, pledged in its manifesto for the 2017 Westminster election: Our Welsh Labour Government is committed to creating a modern, integrated and accessible transport system across Wales that is reliable, affordable and can support economic growth in our communities.
Refreshingly, the Welsh Government has put sustainable development at the heart of everything it does. The various policies point towards ensuring that people can live in a sustainable manner, which must mean being able to travel by public transport and not to depend on access to a private car. That also must mean that, when the Welsh Government calls a meeting, it will arrange it for a time and a place to maximise people’s ability to use public transport.
Not so when it comes to meetings of the Commons Act 2006 Advisory Group. These are called biannually by the government’s Agriculture, Sustainability and Development Division (my emphasis). The meetings are held on the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Powys. The ground is a two-kilometre walk along a main road from Builth Road railway station.
This is about half way along the Swansea–Shrewsbury Heart of Wales railway line. The trains stop at Builth Road (on request) four times a day in each direction.* Lovely though the line is, and important though it is that it should be used, the railway is not convenient for a half-day (10.30-13.00) meeting in Builth Wells unless you live nearby. Alternatively, there is a bus from Cardiff but it is too early to connect with a train from London and anyway it arrives in Builth after the meeting has started.
The Open Spaces Society would like to send one of its case officers, who have expertise in the Commons Act 2006, and has told the organisers more than once that the location and timing of the meeting make it impossible for the society to attend without either spending the night, or driving, or both. But the Welsh Government officers persist in holding the meetings here, requiring the 30 or so people who come to travel by car—which is unsustainable and thus contrary to Welsh Government policies.
This looks like rhagrith (hypocrisy) to me.
* Northbound it stops at Builth Road at 8.27, 11.39, 16.43 and 20.50. Southbound it stops at 7.44, 12.09, 15.50 and 20.06.