First Minister 'welcomed' renaming of Second Severn Crossing months before new name was announced

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones welcomed the controversial renaming of the Second Severn Crossing, letters released under a Freedom of Information request have revealed.

In April, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns announced that the bridge, which crosses the River Severn near Bristol, will be given the name the Prince of Wales Bridge at a ceremony later this year.

Mr Cairns said the move would mark Prince Charles' 70th birthday year and 60 years since he became the Prince of Wales, and would be a "fitting tribute" to the future king's "decades of continued, dedicated service to our nation".

Not everyone welcomed the idea, and more than 37,000 people have signed a petition in a bid to block the renaming.

At the time, a spokeswoman for the Welsh Government confirmed that Mr Jones did not raise any objections about the renaming when Mr Cairns wrote to him about it last year.


Today, letters between the two politicians were released by Mr Cairns' office following a Freedom of Information request by BBC Wales.

In a letter to Mr Cairns dated December 6, Mr Jones wrote: "Thank you for your letter dated September 24 regarding the renaming of the Second Severn Crossing as it passes into public ownership.

"I welcome the idea to rename the crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge."

Mr Jones went on to say the Welsh Government "would support" the proposal, and added that he would stand by to be involved in the formal renaming ceremony.

In Mr Cairns' letter of September 24, he wrote to Mr Jones: "You will recall I wrote to you informing you of the UK Government's intention to rename the Second Severn Crossing."

Mr Cairns added that he had "long been of the opinion" that the current name was not "fitting for the main gateway to Wales from the South West".

The petition on, entitled "Stop the renaming of the second Severn Crossing to the Prince of Wales Bridge", has attracted nearly 38,000 signatures.

Jamie Matthews, who started the petition, wrote: "Let's name the bridge after someone who has achieved something for our nation. Let's consult the people before renaming it unilaterally."

Protesters held placards reading: "No to the Prince of Wales Bridge! Let the people decide," during a demonstration in Cardiff over the weekend following the April announcement.

The Second Severn Crossing was inaugurated by Charles in 1996 and he is due to attend the renaming ceremony later this summer, 22 years on.

The ceremony will take place months before tolls on the Severn crossings linking England with Wales are due to be abolished for all vehicles at the end of 2018.