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Eye-watering cost of putting up new signs across Severn Bridge revealed; Figure was released through a freedom of information request.

Byline: Victoria Jones

The cost of changing the signs to the Prince of Wales Bridge has been revealed.

The M4 Severn Bridge was renamed and huge new signs were placed across the carriageway in May.

The change of name was heavily criticised with more than 38,000 people signing a petition against the decision,WalesOnline report.

There was a ceremony to mark the renaming of the bridge attended by Prince Charles himself but it was not publicised.

It has now been revealed how much the new signs for the bridge cost - a total of [pounds sterling]216,513.39.

The figure was released through a freedom of information request made by WalesOnline to Highways England.

When asked how much was the total cost for the signs were, Highways England said: "Working on behalf of [the Wales Office] Highways England was commissioned to manage the design, creation, installation and the associated traffic management at a total cost of [pounds sterling]216,513.39."

When Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that the bridge would be renamed, it lead to prompting a huge backlash from Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh public.

Campaigners objected to the lack of public consultation, although the Welsh Government was informed of the plans and raised no objections.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood had asked if the announcement was a "late April fool joke".

Now the Rhondda AM has described the cost as "absurd, wasteful and ill-judged".

Ms Wood said: "To spend almost a quarter of a million pounds on signage after a bridge renaming that nobody asked for or was told about beforehand is absurd, wasteful and ill-judged; especially when we are losing so much because of austerity cuts.

"This vanity project proposed by sycophants in the Welsh Office, backed up by 'cap-doffers' in the Welsh Government, will no doubt earn them more establishment brownie points but what real, practical purpose does it serve?

"No member of the public was asked or consulted about this and now we see the true cost of that lack of scrutiny and transparency.

"Few people are using the new name months after it was adopted which shows that it has not really been accepted by people in Wales."

The name change came ahead of the final abolition of the Severn tolls as the bridge returned to public ownership.

The renaming was intended to mark both the 60th anniversary of the Queen giving Prince Charles the title of the Prince of Wales when he was nine years old and his 70th birthday.

Strong backing for the name change came from Maureen Kelly Owen from Penarth, a former Conservative councillor and architect who was a member of the Prince of Wales' Committee for the Welsh Environment.

She said the Prince "most definitely" took a personal interest in Wales and said he had done "lots of good things for the principality".

Wales is a country and not a principality, and hasn't been for hundreds of years.

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In July it was revealed that the cost of changing the name by Highways England totalled [pounds sterling]30,674.82 while a reception to mark the renaming cost [pounds sterling]6,767.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: "The Prince of Wales Bridge was named as part of the UK Government's decision to remove the tolls on both crossings, saving drivers over [pounds sterling]100m per year.

"Highways England has responsibility for the operation, ongoing maintenance and costs of the crossings between England and Wales."

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Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

A maintenance worker holds up a sign for the new Prince of Wales Bridge
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Publication:Get Surrey (Surrey, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 4, 2019
Words:608
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