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Blow to hopes for Northern Link Road
THE deputy leader of Worcestershire County Council has poured cold water on hopes for a Northern Relief Link Road around Worcester - calling it an unwanted "distraction".
Councillor Simon Geraghty says despite huge public pressure to get it built, the leadership of County Hall will not be making it a priority.
He also believes it would be "dangerous" for the council to lobby the Government over the ring road completion, insisting being too greedy could put other investment at risk.
Proposals for a northern link first emerged in 2010, when the council revealed drawings showing a new River Severn crossing near Bevere island.
But the costs, estimated at £160 million, have meant it has been off the agenda ever since.
The council has been working with Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership to draw up a raft of bids to Government worth £250 million by 2021, focusing on transport, but crucially it does not include a Northern Relief Link Road.
Cllr Geraghty has now admitted for the first time that it has been shelved indefinitely, barring a change of political leadership at the council.
"In the document that has been sent to Government we've got one clear message, there is no argument or disagreements over it," he said.
"It's a clear plan backed by all our MPs, council leaders of different political persuasions, the entire LEP board and businesses.
"I'd say with that level of support we've got a unanimous plan, I've never seen that before and what we cannot do is allow other distractions to throw us off.
"The danger is, if you down that route (of calling for a northern link) you stop talking about what's in the plan and focus on something you are probably not going to get.
"We've got a plan which is backed by everybody, -everyone in a position of power has said 'this is the right plan'."
He also says "the majority" of new houses planned in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) focuses on south Worcester, and not northern areas like Claines.
"That growth will be towards the south, not northern areas, and that's where the transport investment has to go," he said.
The document's transport bids focuses on key projects like the A4440 Southern Link Road, including £63 million to dual Carrington Bridge, and £7.5 million for Worcestershire Parkway rail station.
The stance has angered the council's opposition Labour group, with Councillor Richard Udall claiming the focus on the A4440 is "unpopular" and "discredited".
Under the 2010 plans the northern link would run from the A449 Claines roundabout to the A44 Crown East island.
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