Following an announcement last week that the Second Severn Crossing would be renamed “The Prince of Wales Bridge” to mark Prince Charles’ 70th birthday this year, a group gathered in Cardiff to protest.
Waving home-made placards with slogans such as “No to the Prince of Wales bridge! Let the people decide” and “Rhowch Ddewi i Gymru” (“Give Wales the choice” in Welsh) the protestors made it clear that the absence of a public consultation ahead of an official name change was unacceptable.
Plaid Councillor Keith Parry referenced the public consultation which was held ahead of the naming of Scotland’s Queensferry Crossing in 2013 and said ““If the [Second Severn Crossing] is going to be [re]named there needs to be a consultation.” Parry directly called out Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, who made the announcement about the name change, saying that with the Queensferry Crossing “There was a public consultation and about 40,000 took part…But with this Alun Cairns has not consulted anyone.”
The Welsh Government has confirmed that Mr Cairns wrote to First Minister Carwyn Jones last year to propose the change and the suggestion was met with no objections. Added to this, a UK Government spokesperson said: “Since last year, the Secretary of State for Wales has corresponded regularly with the First Minister about the decision to rename the Second Severn Crossing. Throughout the process, the Welsh Government has been in full support of the announcement.”
Neil McEvoy, South Wales Central AM says it is “outrageous” that “the gateway to the country has been renamed and no one knows anything about it”. He added that: “People are angry because it signifies how Wales is taken for granted and that has to stop. I have written to the minister asking for him to reconsider because the name change should not go ahead. It is really embarrassing for Prince Charles because he has been lumbered with a problem that would not have existed had there been a consultation.”
In addition to the protest a petition to stop the renaming of the bridge has been circulating and has accrued more than 24,000 signatures. Jamie Matthews set up the petition and has advocated that the people of Wales should be consulted before a unilateral name change is made and that the bridge should be named after “someone who has achieved something for our nation”.