M4 Lies Finally Revealed

The Information Commissioner has finally forced the Welsh Government to reveal the full extent of its lies over alleged congestion on the M4 motorway around Newport, following a 9-month battle for the truth. Just to be clear, the information published in a nondescript pdf on the government's website (that I think violates the spirit, if not the letter of the Act) isn't the same as the information we received. Our spreadsheet was much more informative

So what does it tell us?

I've done a bit of number crunching for you (table at the bottom of the article). You’ll see that there’s a grand total of 166 different permutations of junctions, directions, times of day and months. But as you go down the list, you'll notice a few points of interest.

Firstly, these are all the average capacity figures for the M4 around Newport at peak times. That is, these are data for the peak morning and afternoon rush hour periods. That means that the entire rest of the time, the motorway is less busy than these figures.

Secondly, some of the combinations of junctions, times and seasons mean that at peak times the motorway is as little as 46% full. Hey, why didn't the Welsh Government tell us that statistic?!

Thirdly, the motorway around Newport is, on average, 76% full at peak times. That's somewhat below the terrifying '80%' threshold that the Welsh Government tells us will lead traffic to "expect operational problems". But most intriguingly, it's way, way below the next item of particular interest in the table, which is the 95% figure the Welsh Government told us the M4 was struggling under, back in September 2015. For those of us with short memories, here's the Welsh Government's 'statistic'.

In fact, the road was only 95% or more full on four of the 166 permutations of junctions, times, seasons and so on. For the 162 other rush-hour permutations the road was less than 95% full. But why did the government plump for the 95% when that figure doesn't actually match any of the 166 options available? 

That's because of the way it went about choosing the 'statistic' to use. You'll see in the second table (all the way at the bottom of this article) that once the months were averaged out, there were 24 different possibilities to choose from. The Welsh Government could have chosen a different way to do this - for example, taking the figure in the middle of the heap. But it decided to take the very highest of all of these figures and use it as the definitive value in its public information displays. It could equally have used the value of 49% using an identical methodology. 

So why would the Welsh Government put out information that was untrue? 

It might do so if it didn't know it was untrue. But the Welsh Government has had this information all along - and, as we now know, went to very considerable lengths to suppress its publication. 

Or it might do so if the Minister of the time Edwina Hart - who approved the publication of these figures - or the Project Director - who directly assessed these figures - wanted to put a particular spin on the public information displays. 

There may be another reason, but if there is I can't think of it. 

So let's recap for a moment. The Welsh Government spent nearly £300,000 parading an exhibition around southern Wales, telling anyone who would listen that the M4 around Newport is 95% full (along with a string of other lies), when the actual figure for peak times is around 20 percentage points lower. The figure was assessed and selected for use by the Project Director out of 166 possible combinations, and approved by the Minister at the time.

Someone, somewhere needs to be held accountable for deliberately deceiving the people of Wales. And I'm sure the Wales Audit Office will be interested to examine whether or not the expenditure on these exhibitions was value for money. 

I've consistently said 'the Welsh Government' did these things. But actually these decisions were taken by people, like you and me. People who are paid to be truthful and to act in the public service. 

Their failure to do so is nothing short of a disgrace. 

We now have a new Welsh Government. The new Minister, Ken Skates, promised last week to "make the right decisions". He has a golden opportunity to make the right decisions on the M4.

Firstly to publish all necessary information relating to these exhibitions and to explain how the previous government got it so wrong. 

And secondly, to cancel the project. To understand that building a new motorway takes us very much against the direction of a sustainable future. And that expenditure of more than £2bn on a single, short stretch of highway in one corner of Wales indebts future generations to the caprice of a bygone, discredited age of 'predict and provide'. 

Junction Direction Capacity AM/PM Month Average traffic volume % of capacity
23a-24 West 5600 AM September 2603 46.48
23a-24 West 5600 AM June 2738 48.89
23a-24 West 5600 AM April 2744 49.00
23a-24 West 5600 AM November 2748 49.07
23a-24 East 5600 PM November 2764 49.36
23a-24 West 5600 AM October 2775 49.55
23a-24 East 5600 PM September 2795 49.91
23a-24 West 5600 AM May 2819 50.34
23a-24 East 5600 PM March 2821 50.38
23a-24 West 5600 AM March 2832 50.57
23a-24 East 5600 PM October 2865 51.16
23a-24 East 5600 PM June 2900 51.79
23a-24 East 5600 PM April 2914 52.04
23a-24 East 5600 PM May 2925 52.23
23a-24 East 5600 AM October 3253 58.09
23a-24 East 5600 AM April 3259 58.20
23a-24 East 5600 AM June 3314 59.18
23a-24 East 5600 AM September 3316 59.21
23a-24 East 5600 AM March 3321 59.30
23a-24 East 5600 AM May 3322 59.32
23a-24 West 5600 PM November 3363 60.05
23a-24 East 5600 AM November 3380 60.36
23a-24 West 5600 PM May 3491 62.34
23a-24 West 5600 PM April 3493 62.38
23a-24 West 5600 PM October 3506 62.61
23a-24 West 5600 PM March  3508 62.64
23a-24 West 5600 PM September 3519 62.84
23a-24 West 5600 PM June 3536 63.14
24-25 West 5600 AM April 3687 65.84
24-25 East 5600 PM March 3698 66.04
24-25 East 5600 PM September 3736 66.71
24-25 West 5600 AM October 3739 66.77
24-25 East 5600 PM April 3761 67.16
24-25 West 5600 AM June 3780 67.50
24-25 West 5600 AM September 3780 67.50
24-25 East 5600 PM May 3790 67.68
24-25 East 5600 PM October 3791 67.70
24-25 East 5600 PM June 3796 67.79
24-25 West 5600 AM May 3816 68.14
24-25 West 5600 AM November 3839 68.55
25a-26 West 4000 AM October 2759 68.98
25a-26 West 4000 AM June 2775 69.38
24-25 West 5600 AM March 3889 69.45
25a-26 East 4000 PM October 2793 69.83
25a-26 West 4000 AM September 2794 69.85
25a-26 West 4000 AM April 2808 70.20
24-25 East 5600 AM September 3935 70.27
25a-26 East 4000 PM March 2811 70.28
24-25 East 5600 AM October 3962 70.75
25a-26 East 4000 PM May 2842 71.05
24-25 West 5600 PM September 3985 71.16
25a-26 East 4000 PM November 2854 71.35
25a-26 West 4000 AM May 2865 71.63
25a-26 East 4000 PM April 2865 71.63
25a-26 West 4000 AM November 2868 71.70
25a-26 East 4000 PM June 2881 72.03
24-25 West 5600 PM May 4053 72.38
24-25 East 5600 AM June 4053 72.38
24-25 West 5600 PM October 4062 72.54
25a-26 East 4000 PM September 2908 72.70
25a-26 East 4000 AM September 2910 72.75
25a-26 East 4000 AM October 2913 72.83
24-25 East 5600 AM April 4083 72.91
25a-26 West 4000 AM March 2935 73.38
25a-26 East 4000 AM November 2935 73.38
24-25 West 5600 PM April 4158 74.25
24-25 East 5600 AM May 4170 74.46
24-25 West 5600 PM November 4190 74.82
24-25 East 5600 AM March 4200 75.00
24-25 West 5600 PM March  4225 75.45
25a-26 East 4000 AM June 3019 75.48
24-25 West 5600 PM June 4232 75.57
Average level of capacity used on the M4 - 76%   75.65
25a-26 East 4000 AM March 3045 76.13
25a-26 East 4000 AM May 3056 76.40
25a-26 East 4000 AM April 3057 76.43
27-28 East 5600 AM October 4309 76.95
27-28 East 5600 AM September 4313 77.02
26-27 East 5600 AM October 4318 77.11
26-27 East 5600 AM November 4320 77.14
26-27 East 5600 AM September 4346 77.61
27-28 East 5600 AM November 4360 77.86
25a-26 West 4000 PM April 3118 77.95
27-28 East 5600 AM April 4369 78.02
25a-26 West 4000 PM May 3121 78.03
27-28 West 5600 PM April 4388 78.36
27-28 East 5600 AM June 4405 78.66
26-27 East 5600 AM April 4411 78.77
26-27 East 5600 AM June 4418 78.89
27-28 East 5600 AM March 4431 79.13
26-27 West 5600 AM April 4433 79.16
25a-26 West 4000 PM September 3168 79.20
27-28 East 5600 AM May 4481 80.02
26-27 East 5600 PM May 4483 80.05
25a-26 West 4000 PM March  3207 80.18
26-27 West 5600 AM October 4504 80.43
26-27 East 5600 PM March 4504 80.43
27-28 West 5600 PM May 4506 80.46
25a-26 West 4000 PM October 3220 80.50
26-27 East 5600 PM September 4509 80.52
26-27 East 5600 AM March 4510 80.54
26-27 East 5600 PM April 4512 80.57
26-27 East 5600 PM November 4523 80.77
26-27 West 5600 AM June 4526 80.82
26-27 East 5600 PM October 4526 80.82
26-27 East 5600 AM May 4527 80.84
25a-26 West 4000 PM June 3242 81.05
26-27 East 5600 PM June 4539 81.05
27-28 West 5600 PM March  4568 81.57
27-28 West 5600 PM June 4580 81.79
26-27 West 5600 PM April 4583 81.84
28-29 West 5600 AM April 4587 81.91
25a-26 West 4000 PM November 3285 82.13
27-28 West 5600 PM September 4601 82.16
26-27 West 5600 AM September 4614 82.39
26-27 West 5600 AM May 4627 82.63
26-27 West 5600 AM November 4652 83.07
26-27 West 5600 PM May 4690 83.75
27-28 West 5600 PM October 4690 83.75
28-29 West 5600 AM June 4701 83.95
27-28 West 5600 PM November 4714 84.18
27-28 East 5600 PM May 4723 84.34
27-28 East 5600 PM March 4733 84.52
28-29 West 5600 AM May 4736 84.57
27-28 East 5600 PM April 4743 84.70
26-27 West 5600 AM March 4746 84.75
28-29 West 5600 AM September 4752 84.86
27-28 East 5600 PM June 4769 85.16
28-29 East 5600 AM October 4770 85.18
27-28 East 5600 PM October 4772 85.21
28-29 East 5600 AM November 4774 85.25
28-29 West 5600 AM November 4782 85.39
26-27 West 5600 PM September 4787 85.48
26-27 West 5600 PM June 4789 85.52
28-29 East 5600 PM March 4803 85.77
26-27 West 5600 PM March  4805 85.80
28-29 East 5600 PM September 4807 85.84
27-28 East 5600 PM November 4818 86.04
28-29 West 5600 AM March 4819 86.05
28-29 West 5600 PM April 4821 86.09
28-29 East 5600 AM September 4821 86.09
26-27 West 5600 PM November 4825 86.16
28-29 West 5600 AM October 4830 86.25
26-27 West 5600 PM October 4833 86.30
27-28 East 5600 PM September 4834 86.32
28-29 East 5600 PM November 4842 86.46
28-29 East 5600 PM May 4886 87.25
28-29 East 5600 PM April 4890 87.32
28-29 East 5600 AM June 4895 87.41
28-29 East 5600 PM June 4931 88.05
28-29 East 5600 AM April 4945 88.30
28-29 West 5600 PM September 4946 88.32
28-29 West 5600 PM March  4969 88.73
28-29 West 5600 PM May 4973 88.80
28-29 West 5600 PM June 4980 88.93
28-29 East 5600 AM May 5006 89.39
28-29 East 5600 AM March 5049 90.16
28-29 East 5600 PM October 5069 90.52
28-29 West 5600 PM November 5072 90.57
27-28 West 5600 AM April 5096 91.00
28-29 West 5600 PM October 5205 92.95
27-28 West 5600 AM June 5217 93.16
27-28 West 5600 AM September 5239 93.55
Figure the Welsh Government used: M4 is '95% full' 95.00
27-28 West 5600 AM May 5329 95.16
27-28 West 5600 AM October 5372 95.93
27-28 West 5600 AM November 5395 96.34
27-28 West 5600 AM March 5456 97.43

 


Junction Direction Capacity AM/PM Month Average traffic volume % of capacity
23a-24 West 5600 AM Average 2751 49.13
23a-24 East 5600 PM Average 2855 50.98
23a-24 East 5600 AM Average 3309 59.09
23a-24 West 5600 PM Average 3488 62.29
24-25 East 5600 PM Average 3762 67.18
24-25 West 5600 AM Average 3790 67.68
25a-26 West 4000 AM Average 2829 70.73
25a-26 East 4000 PM Average 2851 71.28
24-25 East 5600 AM Average 4067 72.63
24-25 West 5600 PM Average 4129 73.73
25a-26 East 4000 AM Average 2991 74.78
27-28 East 5600 AM Average 4381 78.23
26-27 East 5600 AM Average 4407 78.70
25a-26 West 4000 PM Average 3194 79.85
26-27 East 5600 PM Average 4514 80.61
27-28 West 5600 PM Average 4578 81.75
26-27 West 5600 AM Average 4586 81.89
28-29 West 5600 AM Average 4744 84.71
26-27 West 5600 PM Average 4759 84.98
27-28 East 5600 PM Average 4770 85.18
28-29 East 5600 PM Average 4890 87.32
28-29 East 5600 AM Average 4894 87.39
28-29 West 5600 PM Average 4995 89.20
27-28 West 5600 AM Average 5301 94.66

 

Share this page

Tumblr Facebook Twitter Email Addthis
Want to make something happenGet Involved or Send us a Donation