It took an anonymous graffiti artist to tell most of the residents of Port Talbot that their town had been cut off from the motorway. “Save J41”, spray painted on concrete buttresses, was the first they heard that Port Talbot’s access road needed saving.
Which was odd, because the Welsh Assembly began discussing the closure of the slip road to the M4 at junction 41 almost five years earlier. Heavy congestion on the motorway at peak times finally led to a decision in March 2014, but many locals only realised they could no longer access the motorway during the rush hour on August 4 when they found men in hi-vis vests behind rows of traffic cones blocking their way.
Chaos ensued. Commuters faced months of delays, taking different routes each week, all taking extra time, adding mileage, using more petrol, increasing costs and creating more pollution. The local council told protestors that it had put up information posters, some in the Civic Offices and some in the Aberafan Shopping Centre. But since the local paper, the Port Talbot Guardian, closed in 2009 the community had lost a crucial source of information.