A COUNCILLOR has gained the support of Carmarthenshire council for the proposed Swansea Bay and Western Valleys metro idea in an effort to ‘transform’ the region.

The motion tabled by Councillor Rob James, Labour Deputy Leader, called on Carmarthenshire council to recognise the importance of a modern, integrated public transport network in increasing the connectivity of communities across Carmarthenshire.

Plans to electrify the line from Cardiff to Swansea were ditched by the UK Government after the recent General Election.

It is claimed that the £1bn investment in rail links to and within the Swansea Bay region would deliver a major boost to the regional economy.

As part of the Welsh Labour Government’s recent budget deal with Plaid Cymru, it was announced that money was being put aside to fund the development of the strategic outline case for the Swansea Bay and Western Valley metro proposal.

Cllr James called on the council to recognise the importance of a modern, integrated public transport network.

He also moved to tackle poor air quality, and support the principles laid out within the Swansea Bay Metro plan, commit to engaging in any future discussions of a possible Metro system and advocate that any future proposal includes the Amman Valley and Carmarthen to ensure the benefits are felt across Carmarthenshire.

The motion was unanimously supported by councillors.

Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, said: “In my area we have people who are isolated as far as transport links.

“Most people can jump in their cars and drive around but a growing number of people can’t.”

Cllr Darren Price, member for Gorslas, added: “Powers for railway infrastructure have not been devolved to Welsh Government and that is a problem.

“People need to realise that there is a major underspend in Wales - in west Wales in particular – the only thing we can do is to lobby the UK government and Network Rail so that we get a fair share of expenditure.”

After the vote, Cllr James said: “Knocking doors in recent months ahead of the last two elections, we heard of the difficulties resident’s face in attending hospital appointments, attending job interviews, going to work and school, and the growing number of individuals becoming isolated, especially the older generation.

“With major rail infrastructure projects in England, such as HS2 and Crossrail, we are at risk of being left behind.

“With the UK Government’s refusal to support communities in Carmarthenshire, we must be willing to step in and provide the support needed to transform this region.”