22 September 2000
Welsh highlight poor public transport

By FWi staff

IF WELSH farmers representatives relied on public transport to get to union meetings, many would be forced to leave a day early, according to a new survey.

The Farmers Union of Wales calculated the time using public transport it would take its finance and organisation committee to reach a 10am meeting at Aberystwyth.

It found that on average all journeys would take twice as long as by car, with one more than four times.

To make matters worse, several committee members would have to leave the previous day to meet the deadline.

The FUW, which is campaigning to reduce fuel tax in rural Wales, says this shows that cars are an essential items for rural people.

A 200-mile round trip from Holyhead on Anglesey would take president Bob Parry 2hr 50min by car, officials estimated.

But travelling by train the same journey would take 5hr 38min, and Mr Parry would have to leave the previous day to meet the deadline.

And deputy president Glyn Powell, who has to make a 126-mile round trip from Sennybridge, near Brecon, would face an even more tortuous route.

A journey which takes 1hr 15mins by car would stretch out to 5hr 55min by bus – and mean Mr Powell leaving at the 7.45am on the day before the meeting!

“Problems like this are all the explanation the government needs on why people are so dependent on cars,” said Mr Parry.

“In the countryside the car is not a luxury item, but an essential tool.

“However, the government invariably deems cars a sign of prosperity in their quality-of-life surveys.

He said the infrequency, or non-existence, of public transport in rural areas was one reason the FUW was calling for a 10ppl reduction in fuel duty.

FUW activist Brynle Williams was a leading figure at fuel tax protests at the Stanlow refinery in Cheshire, earlier this month.