Huw Irranca-Davies MS and Chris Elmore MP convened a meeting of key stakeholders including Sustrans, Network Rail, Bridgend County Borough Council officers, councillors and the Garw Valley Rail Society to address the challenges of bringing a crucial mid-section of the Garw community route back into proper use for the benefit of the local community. The section of route between Bryngarw Country Park and Pontycymmer was removed from the network due to the poor condition of the route
Despite ongoing campaigns from volunteers and the community council, the section of route cited cannot be properly maintained because of the steady deterioration of the path linked to long-standing problems linked to ownership and leasing. The rights of access along the lower-valley parts of this section are now permissive only, with clear signage, and at the risk of the individual using it.
The condition-survey of the mid-section, carried out by Sustrans and commissioned by Bridgend Council, highlighted that significant and costly work would be needed to bring the section up to the standard where any organisation could consider adopting it fully for community use. There was also an update on constructive exchanges between BCBC and Network Rail on the matter of long-term leasing of the section. If a solution was found it could enable adoption of the path, and for future capital funding proposals to be put forward for repairs and upgrading. All partners on the call were focussed on working together on keeping the path clear and useable, even though the longer-term issues are not yet resolved, so that residents can continue to access the route.
Ogmore MS Huw Irranca-Davies stated:
“It was great to get the key organisations and individuals who can make a difference in one meeting, to understand the challenges, and to explore ways to get this section repaired and maintained and adopted so we have a continuous community route from Bridgend and Bryncethin to the top of the Garw. Whilst this will not be an overnight fix, the will to resolve this impasse was clear, and it was good to see that steps are already being taken by Bridgend Council and Sustrans and Network Rail. It is important that this is communicated more widely to local residents, and that councillors and community councillors and other local partners are involved at every stage.”
Chris Elmore MP added:
“I was pleased to see the willingness to work together to maintain access to and use of the path too, especially as we approach the Spring when more people will want to cycle or walk along the lovely Garw. Huw and I will be writing to those who attended the meeting to ask them to work together on this. It is crucial that even while the longer-term issues are worked on people can still use this section – albeit on a permissive basis and at their own risk.”
Huw and Chris will be organising one of their regular coffee mornings at the Richard Price Centre on the 29th April. They would encourage anyone who wants to discuss this with them to attend .