It’s decision time for the by-pass

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NORTH Preston and Wyre MP Ben Wallace has called for an end to the uncertainty surrounding the long-awaited Broughton by-pass – with one option being for it to be scrapped.

And he has poured cold water on the idea of a suggested new motorway junction between Broughton and Garstang.

The two projects, one a firm policy, the other an increasingly popular idea, have been debated for many years, with the by-pass having been approved, but a starting date repeatedly stalling because of a lack of cash to build it.

Now, in an effort to create some clarity over the by-pass debate, Mr Wallace is to meet with Taylor Wimpey, the would-be developers behind the homes plans on the nearby Whittingham Hospital site, who will be expected to part-fund the by-pass.

And he also intends meeting county highways boss Coun Tim Ashton, who has recently joined the growing calls for a new motorway junction near Garstang, which might ease traffic chaos around Preston.

Mr Wallace ‘inherited’ the Broughton by-pass issue when he became MP for Preston North and Wyre last year.

He says he is aware of the strength of feeling on both sides of the debate but wants the uncertainty ended soon – or the complete withdrawal of the scheme from regional planning blueprints.

Mr Wallace has written to the cash-strapped county council asking for “an honest appraisal of whether funding will be available and to set out a timescale for any construction.

“If they cannot identify where the funding will come from within a clear timescale, I will urge the county to remove the by-pass from the regional plans, as the current state of flux is unsettling to residents.”

He added: “It is my view that there will be no public funds for a by-pass for the next 10 to 15 years, so the by-pass will only come to fruition if there is a solid commitment from the developer of the hospital site to provide funding.”

Mr Wallace is to meet Taylor Wimpey’s regional bosses next week to discuss their involvement and commitment to the overall scheme.

He also hopes to meet Coun Ashton during April to discuss both the Broughton scheme and Coun Ashton’s call for a new junction off the M6.

A new junction off the M6 north of Broughton and linking to the A6 possibly at Claughton has been suggested several times in recent years by various authorities, including Preston City Council leader Coun Ken Hudson.

Coun Ashton’s backing for the idea will add weight to the call.

He would like Mr Wallace to push the idea with the government’s Highway Agency, whose current policies would block the idea.

Coun Ashton said: “I know people have asked before and have been told they cannot use a motorway for local congestion. The HA’s view, and probably quite rightly, is that a motorway should be used at strategic distances to get people from city to city, rather than town to town.”

But Mr Wallace is not convinced that a M6 junction near Garstang would get government backing, because of HA’s view that motorways should not be used to ease local congestion.

Mr Wallace said: “It is unlikely that it will become reality.”

Mr Wallace will meet Taylor Wimpey officials over the Broughton by-pass on Friday, April 8.

n Coun Ashton said Lancashire County Council had pledged to improve the roundabout at Broughton.

n Comment, page six