The South East Wales Transport Commission was set up by First Minister Mark Drakeford MS with Lord Terry Burns appointed as Chair to lead a rapid yet detailed assessment of sustainable alternatives to reduce congestion on the M4 following the Welsh Government’s decision to cancel construction of a £1.4bn M4 Relief Road in 2019.

Cogitamus Limited was appointed to support the Commission in engaging with stakeholders so that their views could help inform its analysis and recommendations to the Welsh Government.

Our work involved devising a programme of stakeholder engagement, starting with the systematic mapping of organisations from across transport, housing, development and environmental sectors as well as public health and emergency services, along with members of the public with an interest in the Commission’s enquiries.  Cogitamus then deployed a variety of methodical processes for engaging and receiving feedback from these audiences so that their views could play a meaningful role in the deliberations of the Commission and its technical team.

Our programme of engagement included planning and leading well attended stakeholder workshops across Newport, Cardiff and Chepstow as well as a number of online stakeholder workshops which allowed us to continue our engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic.  We created content and managed a digital consultation platform to encourage widespread online public engagement.  We also produced and hosted digital surveys around travel to work aimed at commuters in the region as well as surveys around remote working practices and intentions aimed at regional employers.  Our methodologies provided the Commission with both qualitative and quantitative insights.

Together, our activities ensured the Commission was fully aware of stakeholder and public views on the problems facing transport users, businesses and communities across the South East Wales and West of England regions, as well as of potential solutions.  These views were a vital part of the technical assessment process feeding into the Commission’s Interim Report in May 2020 and its formal recommendations made to Welsh Ministers in November 2020.

Once the recommendations of the Commission had been concluded, Cogitamus moved into an advocacy role, assisting in publication and launch of its report.  During November 2020, we secured significant levels of coverage and placement of opinion pieces in the UK national print media as well as in specialist construction and transport trade press and the print, broadcast and online media within Wales.  The Commission’s findings were welcomed by the Welsh Government on the day of publication.

Since the final report of Lord Burns and the South East Wales Transport Commission was published in 2020, the UK Government’s Interim Union Connectivity Review 2021 has cited the work of the Commission.  Sir Peter Hendy – who is leading the Review – has suggested that he supports much of the Commission’s approach.

Lord Burns, South East Wales Transport Commission, Stakeholder mapping, Stakeholder engagement, Stakeholder relations, Stakeholder workshops, Online consultation, Online surveys, Business engagement, Travel surveys, Public engagement, Workshops, Stakeholder engagement methodology, Communications strategies, Media relations