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We need Government answers over Carrington Bridge, says council
COUNCIL chiefs have fired the Government a warning over a £63 million bid to revamp Carrington Bridge - saying they need answers sooner rather than later.
Worcestershire County Council's leadership has made a plea for ministers to give an early indication on whether funds to dual the notorious A4440 bridge will be forthcoming.
It now says it "cannot justify" spending £7 million of taxpayers' money towards preparation work for a new bridge if the Government turns around and then refuses to stump up the cash.
As your Worcester News revealed in April, a bid of £63 million has been made to finally dual the congested bridge, which part of Worcester's Southern Link Road.
The council wants work to start by 2020/21, saying if the work is not done the route will not be able to cope with all the new houses proposed for south Worcester.
But for the project to get off the ground taxpayers would need to stump up significant costs in advance, of around £7 million.
The Conservative leadership says it is not prepared to risk that spending without some kind of indication that the £63 million is likely to arrive.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "We clearly need some indication so we can justify spending what will be relatively large sums of public money, our money, to get this off the ground.
"We haven't got that commitment as of yet and we need it - what we'd like to know is that the commitment will be there.
"The discussions we need to have with the Government have to be about us saying 'we need some certainty over the medium term'.
"Otherwise how can we justify spending this money?"
Peter Blake, the council's head of integrated transport, said: "A lot of the growth in the SWDP (South Worcestershire Development Plan, a housing blueprint to 2030) focuses on that area.
"We know it's already a congested carriageway and the bridge really is the last piece of the jigsaw.
"We'd like more than perhaps a 'nod and a wink', we'd want more certainty over the medium term which is why we're nailing our colours to the mast."
The £63 million bid has been put together in conjunction with Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as part of a blueprint calling for £250 million of Government investment in total.
The Government has asked LEPs across the county to bid for cash, with £2 billion available every year.
A first announcement on funds for 2015/16 is expected by August.
Last year the county council revealed a £38 million plan to part-dual the rest of the A4440 Southern Link Road by 2018, but not actual the bridge unless the Government stumps up the cash.
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