A question mark is hanging over government funding of more than £140m for the proposed controversial Warrington Western Link Road, which will cost in excess of £212m if given the green light.
Warrington Borough Council, who plan to borrow £70 million towards the cost of the scheme, had expected a decision on the Department of Transport funding by mid-May – but no decision has yet been made – despite three other major highway schemes being approved elsewhere in the country.
Around £2.7m has already been spent on the project.
With another peaceful protest opposing the proposal planned at the town hall this coming Monday (June 18), campaigners say they are “disappointed” not to have been advised of the situation due to the level of uncertainity and anxiety.
A spokesperson for the Communities United Admin Group said: “At the request of Faisal Rashid MP, a number of residents have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with members of the Warrington Western Link project team.
“This engagement has been ongoing on a monthly basis since March 2018.
“We were originally informed that a decision would be made on the funding from the Large Local Majors Fund for the Warrington Western Link in Spring 2018, and advised that we would be informed of any decision once the national announcement had been made as a number of local authorities had bid for this funding.
“We are therefore disappointed that we were not notified by the Warrington Western Link Project Team when the announcement was published on the Dept for Transport Website on May 17.
“It wasn’t until the beginning of June when we queried with one of the project team whether the bid had been unsuccessful, that we were advised as follows – “We have had a conversation with the DfT following the announcement of three other LLMF schemes in May who have been successful for funding. We have been told that the remaining schemes are still being considered for funding and an announcement will be made over the summer.”
“Given the level of uncertainty and anxiety over the status of this bid to the LLMF, we are continuing to make enquiries and push for answers at a national and local level.
“Whilst summer recess commences for Government from July 20, we will as a group and as residents continue to campaign against the Warrington Western Link.
“We would strongly urge those who want to preserve our green space, health and wellbeing, air quality, wildlife and heritage to support the Protest Rally against the P.D.O and Western Link Road, organised by Canaries on tour – Save Warrington Green space, taking place on Monday June 18, at Warrington Town Hall at 19:00, this is the last full council meeting until September.”
Meanwhile the Canaries, Helen Gurnani and Tanya Baker, have visited various sites in the town to raise awareness of the threat to Warrington’s green spaces posed by the PDO and recently delivered a petition to Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid’s constituency office with almost 4,500 signatures. calling on the council to have a huge rethink over its controversial development plans.
Announcing Monday’s Objection Rally on the Communities United against the Western Link face book page Helen wrote: “Please join us at the Town Hall after the Full Council Meeting to show our opposition to and demand the scrapping of these Monstrous Plans WBC have for our Town”.
“The Western Link Road is pivotal to the mass expansion New City/ Devolution Plans WBC are plotting, which have delivered the PDO Draft Local Plan (2017) taking away our green spaces.”
“This is all procedurally undemocratic, developer profiting rather than suiting the needs of the people, wantonly squanderers of our green assets and poorly justified financially and in terms of infrastructure. It will adversely affect our entire Town. Let us demand better from our Council.”
“They must stop chasing after pots of gold to fund their dream schemes and protect and preserve our Home Town- NOW!”
Anyone who cannot attend the rally but would like further details of “Communities United against the Western Link” activities check out their facebook page or e mail email@example.com.
A Warrington Borough Council spokesman said: “Warrington Borough Council has asked for an update on the decision-making process for the Department for Transport funding bid for the planned Western Link. The DfT had previously advised the Council that a decision on the Western Link was planned to be made by May 2018.
“The Council can confirm that the Department has advised them that no decision has yet been taken on funding for the Western Link. This is also the case for a number of other schemes across the country. There is currently no firm date for when this decision is to be made.”