Anglesey Agricultural Society “very disappointed” over Mona HGV site refusal

Organisers of the Anglesey Agricultural Show say they’re “very disappointed” after plans for a Mona HGV customs site were refused by councillors, claiming it could have “safeguarded the show’s future”. Citing concerns over the traffic impact on nearby villages, Anglesey council’s executive unanimously refused a bid to amend the lease on land currently let out to the island’s Agricultural Society. The land on Mona Industrial Estate has been used as a park and ride facility for the annual show, as well as the National Eisteddfod in 2017 when flooding affected the festival site in Bodedern.

But after being approached by show organisers, who had brokered a deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to house a customs facility checking and holding up to 100 HGVs travelling to and from Ireland after the end of the December transition period, members refused the request to amend the lease conditions. According to the executive, the move would have had an “unacceptable impact” on villages such as Gwalchmai and Rhostrehwfa, with lorries diverted off the A55 and onto the A5 which runs through both communities. Responding to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a spokesperson for the Anglesey Agricultural Society said that such an agreement could have financially safeguarded the future of the show, which typically attracts around 55,000 people, especially after the blow of this summer’s cancellation due to Covid-19.

They added that the society had been “open and transparent” on the requirements as it continued discussions with HMRC, and were happy to work “collaboratively” on issues including traffic. “We are very disappointed that the council have refused this application,” they said in a statement, noting they had been approached by the HMRC in April and consulted with Anglesey council. “The society would have welcomed negotiations with the council to agree on the terms, and would have worked collaboratively to work through any issues including the traffic through Gwalchmai.

“The society are happy to have further discussions with HMRC and the council on the matter. “The society are in a difficult financial position in light of Covid-19, with no show and no events taking place on the showground. “This agreement could have safeguarded the society and the show for the future.”

But Cllr Bob Parry, who represents Gwalchmai as well as being the highways portfolio holder, said that alternative and “more appropriate” sites had been put forward by the authority and that replacing the park and ride would “defeat the purpose for which the lease was granted in the first place”. “The application breaks the terms of the lease quite clearly, but what worries me is the impact on the village of Gwalchmai and the crossroads at Rhostrehwfa who would be faced with hundreds of lorries every day as they come off and back onto the A55,” he said. “Many homes in Gwalchmai are forced to park their cars on the A5 and children cross the road to go to school, while the junction at Rhostrehwfa is already dangerous.”

Members were also critical of the UK Government for leaving it so late, with Cllr Carwyn Jones claiming that a task and finish group should have “long been set up”, and that the UK Government was now “running around like headless chickens” as they “scramble” to hit the deadline.

A HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC is working closely across government, with the Welsh government and with ports to understand requirements and implement infrastructure changes in line with the support announced by the government.

“Alongside engaging with ports to understand what infrastructure may be required, we are reviewing a number of potential sites which are close to ports, and near strategic road networks, including options to support Holyhead.”

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