This is not the end of the line, said Swindon MP Robert Buckland
NO funding has been allocated for the proposed extension to Thamesdown Drive in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
After a report into the best route for the project, and costings in the region of £50m being anticipated, there were hopes a ruling would be made in the budget announcement made yesterday in the Commons.
And while funding has not been provided for the link road, which would relieve pressure on routes between West and North Swindon, MPs have said they will continue the fight to get the road under construction.
South Swindon MP, Robert Buckland, said more work could be needed to convince the government to release the necessary funds.
“I am still cautiously optimistic that this will go ahead,” he said.
“I do not think the fact we have not had an announcement today means that this is the end of the road. The work goes on to cross the Is and dot the Ts.
“We will continue lobbying very hard to get it through. It will mean stepping up the pressure with more meetings around what needs to be done to get this sorted.
“I will carry on doing that as a matter of urgency to make sure we can get this as soon as possible. We have come a long way in the last few months, and while it would have been good to have a decision today, I understand these processes are not as straightforward as people would like to think.”
An update to the 2008 Halcrow report into the route and costings was completed in November, providing detailed plans and an estimated cost.
“This time last year people were not thinking of it as a reality,” said Mr Buckland. “Although we are all anxious to get it up and running, we should not be too down hearted by the fact that we have not got the funding today.
“This is a project that enjoys cross party support, and having that political will has allowed things to move forward with speed.
“Now it is a question of making sure the scheme fits the right criteria.”
Kevin Fisher, chair of the Shaw Residents Association, said: “This road extension was a requirement simply to cope with the original Northern expansion.
“We are now seeing Ridgeway Farm, Tadpole Farm, Moredon Bridge and quite possibly, at some stage in the future, Pry Farm developments coming on line.
“Government guidelines talk about necessary infrastructure and indeed the recent planning Inspectors review of the draft Swindon Local plan highlighted the gap in funding for infrastructure as a weakness in the plan.
“Yet here we are with an opportunity for government to provide the resources for Swindon to meet the expansion demands put on us by the Secretary of State, and it is not granted. It is time for our MP’s and councillors to send a strong message to the government about the unsustainable development of our borough.”
Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, said: “I think we need to wait a little longer. There is further detail coming up from the report we submitted to Whitehall.
“This has been something I am very keen to pursue, and we have received feedback which we now need to draw into our report in order to take this forward.
“I am still optimistic from the feedback we have received so far.”
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