The Welsh Labour Governemnt's First Minister has evaded an invitation to take a walk along the notorious Cogan Dip

The Welsh Labour Government’s First Minister Carwyn Jones has evaded an invitation to take a walk along the notorious Cogan Dip – the polluted route that local residents have to walk every day

The Welsh Labour Government’s First Minister Carwyn Jones, who was airily talking about air quality and “sustainable travel ” at First Minister’s Questions in the National Assembly yesterday, received an invitation to better-acquaint himself with the Cogan area.

The invitation came from David Melding – the mild-mannered Conservative AM for South Wales Central – the constituency which includes Penarth –  and, for that matter, Cogan.

The Cogan Air Quality Management Area is outlined in blue

The Cogan Air Quality Management Area is outlined in blue

The air quality in Cogan is so bad that the area continues to be the only AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) anywhere in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The comparative lack of breathable air in Cogan is directly the responsibility of the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council which has –  over four years-  failed to get air pollution there down to acceptable levels – not that they’ve tried particularly hard.

David Melding AM (Conservative South Wakles Central which includes Penarth)

David Melding AM (Conservative South Wales Central which includes Penarth) invited the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to take a walk with him through polluted Cogan. He never got an answer,.

In the Welsh Assembly yesterday David Melding – never usually an AM to cause offence – rose to say “First Minister I’d invite you to walk though Cogan  if you want to really experience poor air quality. It’s quite astonishingly  bad there. I walk  through Cogan quite frequently. “

Melding went on to say “It’s clear that we need to reduce the number of needless journeys or journeys by single occupant vehicles. There are many quick wins that we can gain and that ought to be other half of our active travel strategy . We’ve got a good law. We need to start to implement it “

The First Minister Carwyn Jones failed to respond to the question about Cogan air quality.

The First Minister Carwyn Jones failed to respond to the specific issue of Cogan’s air quality.

The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, however seemed decidedly reluctant to take a stroll through Cogan’s Air Quality Management Area – and evaded giving a response to Melding’s invitation to walk it – or even to talk about it .

In 2013 this air-quality monitoring station in Cogan showed nitrogen dioxide levels hazardous to health. Four years on it still is

In 2013 this air-quality monitoring station in Cogan showed hazardous levels of nitrogen dioxide. Four years on, they still as bad.

Instead he blustered on about the need for what he called a “multi-pronged approach” saying “Where there are immense traffic problems that cannot be resolved by public transport they need to be dealt with. The M4”  [which Melding hadn’t mentioned ]is such an issue. We can’t rely on car-based transport forever.    When the franchise[by now he was talking about the Arriva Trains franchise- which was not a point raised by Melding]transfers to the Welsh Government we want to make sure that we have better quality rolling stock on Cardiff suburban lines , and the development of the Metro, more light trains in years to come so that communities which perhaps lost their links years ago to the heavy rail network are  re-connected by the light rail network.”

The First Minister continued “When it comes to cycling [Melding hadn’t asked about cycling]  we are very very keen to make sure that more cities see cycling not just as a recreation but as a mode of transport. Cardiff [Melding hadn’t mentioned Cardiff] has a network of cycle routes . They’re not all connected . Other towns and cities“, he claimed “don’t do so well”.

The First Minister said it was important for many cyclists that “they’re not in the same lanes of traffic – their confidence is not strong enough for them to do that –  so we must do more of course through the Active Travel Act to make sure that modes of sustainable travel are  promoted”

In his tour d’horizon of “sustainability” however, the First Minister never actually got around to addressing the issue he’d actually been asked about –  i.e. Cogan –  and  its local residents –  and its worrying levels of nitrogen dioxide. Instead, the issue was just left hanging in the air.

Cardiff Buses - with passengers aboard waiting to get to Penarth - wait with engines runnning at the Cogan Dip bus stop - continuously spewing out diesel fumes

Cardiff Buses – with passengers aboard waiting to get to Penarth – wait for several minutes with engines running at the Cogan Dip bus stop – continuously spewing out diesel fumes

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  1. Nigel Bull says:

    I am afraid that an obtuse reply from our First Minister is part of his normal modus operandi. He regularly holds the members and the institution of the Welsh Assembly itself in contempt by refusing to reply to a straightforward question directly. This behaviour is often accompanied by smirk, as an irrelevant prepared answer is delivered and should be condemned by all parties in the assembly. Tolerance of such behaviour should not occur by those who support the Welsh Assembly as it confirms both the irrelevance and the ineptitude of those that operate within. In doing so they add to the already generous supply of ammunition belonging to those that would abolish it and many of the seats occupied by councillors that hide their decisions from the electorate.

    Carwyn there is a problem with the air quality in Cogan, address the problem or as was suggested by Vincent Kane when rounding up his scathing documentary “In the name of god go! You have sat long enough”

  2. penarthblog says:

    I can’t see a solution to this problem as it’s down to two things, topography and queuing traffic. There are only a few exits for traffic from Penarth this being the main one. It’s possible to make more use of trains to ease this problem, but recent evidence suggests that a lot of work would need to be done to make this option a viable one.

    • Bobby says:

      I agree there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix to the pollution in Cogan not without doing all the things already suggested by the first minister. I wonder if Melding could expend on what he calls “quick wins” and which good laws that are already in place to solve it? It would also be interesting to know if all of the pollution is caused by queuing traffic or if anything else also contributes to it, for example; Cogan is bounded on 2 sides by railway lines and the Penarth train in particular often stops and waits at the signal close to Windsor Road.

  3. David Wilton says:

    As PDN reports – our current Labour Council are doing little to address this serious problem.
    Plaid Cymru Penarth have regularly argued the following measures:.
    1) The Vale council needs to press Welsh Government and Network Rail to reinstate a simple platform/halt at Cogan on the Penarth line (near where the old Penarth dock station was) like we have at Dingle. Cogan residents tell us they don’t use the current Cogan station as they simply can’t get on it at peak times as the trains are overloaded by the time they arrive from Llantwit/Barry/Dinas. They are forced to drive. An under capacity Penarth line would really offer an attractive option compared to the sardine tin that arrives from the Barry line.
    2) Labour have got to stop approving more and more new estates and developments in Penarth & Sully without doing something about our current infrastructure. They are making things worse for Cogan residents. They are in denial mode.
    3) Use the money allocated to Labour’s vanity projects and look to improve school bus fares. Over the summer, our Labour council doubled and tripled the bus fares on many routes for Ysgol Pen y Garth school, causing many parents to revert to cars after years of using school buses. Great work at making things worse.

    • Just a thought! says:

      I’m led to believe that the Cogan trains are 2 carriages rather than the 4 we have coming into Penarth. That’s an easy win.

      How about reinstating the train line to Sully if these estates are to be built? We know they will be!

      Aren’t buses free to children within area? If so another easy win is stop allowing out of area kids into our already over subscribed schools.

      • penarthblog says:

        The line could be reinstated as far as Forest Rd. Beyond that it’s been built on and I suspect reopening the line that far would incur massive opposition.

    • Bobby says:

      Is there enough room to put a platform on the Penarth line near Cogan? in theory its a good idea but network rail would need to buy the car lot and retail unit (the old station?) which probably would not be cost effective. Better would be to add some more carriages on to the train coming through Cogan; yesterday’s 7:30 train was standing room only from Cogan because it only had 2 carriages on, which clearly isn’t enough at peak time.

    • penarthblog says:

      Your first suggestion about reinstating a station at Cogan is something I find very attractive as there are many occasions due to traffic management, trains do stop on the slope from Dingle Rd station to where the line meets the Barry line, so why not make good use of such forced stops and incorporate them into the timetable, although I suspect it won’t be that simple. On the issue of housing, my perceptions on this are that local authorities don’t seem to understand the impact any such developments have on the wider surrounding communities, as you rightly say, developments in places like Sully/Barry/Dinas Powys do effect Cogan and other areas and I don’t think councils and councillors get that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising councillors as I don’t think they have the necessary knowledge or expertise to do any different. Maybe such councillors could seek expert advice from the departments of larger councils although egos may get in the way. On the subject of school bus fares, I see no evidence that so called vanity projects would lead to a decrease of increase of school bus fares.

      • David Wilton says:

        there are a couple of points raised as a result of my post but I’ll tackle the Cogan station first.
        1) track wise – there is plenty of track bed for a single sided halt like Dingle.
        2) regarding access -no need to buy the old station building or other large buildings – just need to acquire a strip of land wide enough for pedestrian access to a point on the platform. ie 6ft wide – same as Dingle. (in theory could also have an access point/footbridge via Tesco carpark for Marina residents subject to usual negotiations.
        3) timetables, electification etc – I don’t have all the answers but ultimately there are plenty of clever rail professionals inc Network Rail who can work all that out. As pointed out to me recently…the entire computer capability of NASA that got someone on the moon in 1969 was less than power of a modern iphone. Anything can be done if we want it to happen.

  4. As I’ve explained before the Penarth branch is just about 100% utilised and it would not be possible to add an additional stop at Cogan with the present diesel timetable. If you look at this link http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/search/advanced/COGANJ/2016/12/14/1400-1500?stp=WVS&show=all&order=wtt you’ll see that each train spends 12 or 13 minutes on the Penarth branch and there simply isn’t time for it to make an additional two stops. I’ve allowed time for the train to clear the junction an associated signal sections in my 12 or 13 minutes. If you really want to create a new station at Cogan and bring it into use the loop at Dingle Road would need to reinstated and an additional two trains found for ATW or you could reduce the service to every 30 minutes. The timings on the Penarth branch are amongst the tightest in Great Britain.

    ATW do not have enough trains in their present contract with the UK government for the number of passengers now using their network. There is a national shortage of diesel units throughout Great Britain and ATW is not the only company with severe overcrowding. The UK government has cancelled a significant amount of Great Western electrification and the diesel units this would have made available from this project will now have to remain where they are.

    As far as I’m aware the UK government do not have any plan B to make additional trains available for the Valley Lines and I suspect they will expect ATW and the follow on contractor in a couple of years to muddle on with what we already have on the basis that the proposed metro will happen eventually.

    fGw are also having similar problems and I recently travelled on a service where passengers were unable to board at Bath, Bristol, and Abbey Wood on a Cardiff bound service.

    The UK government have failed to get a grip with railway overcrowding and there is no end in sight at the moment for us in Wales.

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