A55: North Wales should have its own 'Metro Mayor' to devolve transport decisions, CEO says
Reporter Joanne Gallacher takes a road trip along the A55 for ITV1's Sharp End
A businessman says transport decisions should be devolved from South to North Wales - with the introduction of its own Metro Mayor.
Askar Sheibani, CEO of Comtek Network Systems Group and Chair of Deeside Business Forum, says poor transport links is affecting inward investment.
He told ITV1's Sharp End: "If we had a metro mayor type of individual with executive power - the power needs to be devolved from South to here because this is different - then we've got an amazing opportunity."
Nearly all road-building projects in Wales were delayed, changed or scrapped altogether in February when the Welsh Government set out a new transport plan, with aims to reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Sheibani says the move will hamstring the area's manufacturing industry and its potential to provide a major source of cheap, green energy for the country. According to Mr Sheibani, it was yet another example of how the North-South divide is putting the region at a huge disadvantage.
He said: "We've only got the one route, the A55, and that's connected to A494. That's it. We don't have a motorway here like South Wales has.
"The A494 is not good enough, it does not serve North Wales well. It creates a huge amount of pollution for our local community around here in Aston and Queensferry. It's basically choking them to death, that's how bad it is and how unhealthy it is."
He says some decisions to cut road building mean people can't work for him because there's no way to get to Deeside Business Park from some local villages, unless travelling by car.
"You've got a lot of deprivation and we want those people in those communities to access employment, we want them to have a better life. Our economy is absolutely key for our community."
Transport Minister Lee Waters says more road building is continuing in the North than the South.
"We cancelled road schemes across the whole of Wales, we cancelled the M4 in South Wales," he said. "And of the schemes that are going ahead, more of them are in North Wales and mid wales than anywhere else."There's been investment in the Metro in North Wales. We've got £800million of brand new trains coming in to operation across Wales but they've started in the North."North Wales is getting investment but obviously some people don't agree with what we're doing on roads and they're trying to find all sorts of angles to try and have a go at us but we should talk about the first principles of what we're trying to do.
"We're trying to make Wales future-proof for the challenges ahead. We've set up a Burns commission specifically for North Wales which will come up with a pipeline of schemes to improve public transport right across the North."
You can see more on this story, plus the latest political discussion on Sharp End, Mondays at 10.45pm, on ITV1 - catch up here