Emergency meeting agrees to form task force over recent Pistyll Rhaeadr gridlock
Residents who live near the Llanrhaedr waterfall say that unless emergency measures are brought in to prevent gridlock in the village and the road to the beauty spot, the falls should be closed.
An emergency meeting was held in Llanrhaeadr this evening to thrash out how to deal with the thousands of visitors flocking to see the falls, one of the 'Seven Wonders of Wales'.
Over recent weekends the four-mile, single track road has been gridlocked by cars trying to get up to Pistyll Rhaeadr.
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Emergency first responder with Wales Ambulance, Mervyn Carpenter, told the open air meeting at the Wynnstay Hotel that he took half an hour to drive to the falls at the weekend.
"To respond to a call from a lady at the falls and take 30 minutes to drive four miles is not acceptable," he said. "Emergency response has to be the priority."
Those at the meeting included county and community councillors, MP Craig Williams and police and highways representatives.
Community councillor Huw Williams said the situation was appalling, while resident Phil Roberts said if there was an emergency at the waterfall the only way in would be by air ambulance.
"People are scared to leave their homes at weekends," he said. "We have to sort out the access to the waterfall. It is a medieval road and this is a medieval village and we are not able to deal with this. It is becoming intolerable."
Emma Lovatt, who manages the village playground, said visitors had been using the area as a toilet and leaving rubbish there.
"Why do people think they can use our green areas as a toilet? They wouldn't do it at home," she said. "We have had to close the playground early to local children because of the awful mess."
Many villagers said they understood why people wanted to visit the waterfall, particularly those living in cities. But they said there was not enough information online about the narrow road and the difficulties they would experience when they arrived at Llanrhaeadr.
There were calls for a booking system to be implemented by Phil Facey, who runs the café and car parking by the falls. But he said that the waterfall was a public place and many people parked in laybys and passing places and walked to see it.
He said he had been woken at 5am on Sunday by about 100 people trying to visit in the early hours – numbers that grew to about 500 in just a couple of hours. And he said he had picked up 18 huge bags of rubbish.
"Why should these people destroy the beauty of the waterfall?" he said.
Resident Emma Wilde was one of those that said that if nothing could be done then the waterfall should be shut.
She suggested that an interactive sign could be placed a few miles away from Llanrhaeadr which, when there were too many visitors, could warn that the road to the falls was full and that people should not continue further.
Tony Kane from Powys Council Highways said the council did not have access to such signs.
Villages also called for Mr Facey and agencies such as the police and the council to use social media to explain to would-be visitors that roads were busy and they should postpone their journeys.
They said the land owner, the Wynnstay Estate, should take measures to help. Chairman of the community council, Councillor Sandra Bailey, said the estate had been invited but had not sent a representative.
Inspector Jonathon Rees Jones from Dyfed Powys police told the meeting that extra officers had been on patrol in the area in recent weekends but said that was not sustainable in the long-term.
He and the council said they were looking at signs for the passing places to say no parking, after pleas from people at the meeting.
Councillor Bailey said a task force would look at all the suggestions from the meeting and get back to villagers.