CONTENTIOUS plans to alter the A465 Heads of the Valleys road and “block off a town completely” will go ahead in August after business owners said their views were ignored.

Contractors Costain, who held a consultation for businesses in February, will shut the Brynmawr roundabout in Blaenau Gwent later this year.

The work is part of a long-running £336 million project over a five-mile stretch from Brynmawr to Gilwern which started in 2014, with the aim being to convert the stretch from a three-lane road into a dual carriageway.

The decision to shut the roundabout and block off the exit to Brynmawr was met with criticism by residents and business owners in Brynmawr and Abergavenny, who proposed alternatives such as mini-roundabouts to allow traffic to access the town easily.

But they were stunned in June when they found out via social media that their town was to be “shut off” at an already desperate time for businesses.

A public consultation was planned to take place in March, but this didn’t happen because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Westbound traffic will have to take a five-mile diversion to get off at Brynmawr for four months while the roundabout is demolished, with fears this will have a significant impact on traffic in Beaufort.

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Option A required the construction of a temporary roundabout located on the A465 adjacent to the permanent eastbound slip road. Picture: Costain

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Option B, which will be implemented, involves maintaining free flow along the elevated A465 with no roundabout, shutting off Brynmawr. Picture: Costain

Eastbound traffic will have to take a diversion through Ebbw Vale and Blaenavon, which could cut off visitors to and from Monmouthshire.

Business owner and car mechanic Neil Austin, who is based in Brynmawr, said he feels the businesses and residents that attended consultations to voice concerns were “paid lip service”.

“At the consultation earlier in the year we were given option A and an option B,” he explained. “One option was to do nothing and the other was to build a temporary roundabout right in the middle of the construction site – which was never going to work and I think they knew that.

“I said at the consultation that there was a much better option to build a junction further up the road, but it was ignored.

“As a business which relies on people travelling to Brynmawr I am extremely concerned.”

Owners of Brynmawr-based hair and beauty company Kutz N Kurlz Donna and Steve Wallbank say it will “leave the town cut off” at the worst possible time.

“When consultation first took place in 2013 it was said that these plans will have no adverse impact on communities,” they said, “this will have a terrible impact on businesses here and the traffic on minor roads.

“We are not against the road and fully support the restructure, but it needs to be done with alternative travel methods to make sure our town isn’t isolated.”

Anthony Davies, who owns 360 Property Ltd and properties in Abergavenny and Brynmawr, said: "It could be the final nail in the coffin for this area. My customers came here because it was easy to get onto the Heads of the Valleys and travel to Cardiff or Bristol, but that is difficult now.

"Footfall is likely to fall significantly in Abergavenny and Brynmawr because of this, and once the rot starts it is difficult to turn that around."

Jason Harries who owns Revue Men’s Clothing in Abergavenny says the plans will have a “huge impact on footfall".

“The work has always had an adverse impact on the town and this is just another piece of bad news when we need support the most,” he said. “People will not come to Abergavenny to then have to take diversions to get back home.

“You’d have thought they could at least have given it until Christmas for us to get back on our feet, and then restarted the work.”

In a letter sent to MSs and MPs dated June 24, a week before the official plans for August were released, minister for the economy and transport Ken Skates wrote: “There have been several communications on the proposed temporary traffic management switch which is planned as part of the above programme, for the 14 to 17 August 2020 (contingency the weekend before and after).

“If any of your constituents have any specific questions, please ask them to contact Costain’s Public Liaison Officer Jeff Mapps on 07739634021 or

“I continue to be extremely grateful for people’s patience whilst these important works are carried out.”