HEREFORDSHIRE Council has been challenged over the “absurd” direction Hereford’s southern link is taking – driven by millions of pounds from the government to make it happen.

It’s Our County (IOC)  asked cabinet in April for confirmation that the route was being openly proposed as phase one of the city’s proposed western relief Road, to be told nothing had been formally agreed”.

IOC says this contradicts the council’s own Corporate Delivery Plan 2014/15  and its reference to a  Belmont Transport Package which would  include a  new link road from the A49 – B4349  as the first  phase of a western relief road.

“In not admitting to the real reason for this road, has the council forgotten its own Corporate Delivery Plan?” said IOC deputy leader Cllr Liz Harvey.

Last week, Whitehall confirmed that the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership had secured some £75m from the government’s Local Growth Fund, with £39.43m coming to the county for projects including the southern link road and sustainable travel in South Wye.

“We applaud the sustainable and active travel proposals in the South Wye Transport Package. But we don’t believe the claims that the A49-A465 link will help to reduce delays and congestion in South Wye, or that it is essential to the sustainable transport elements in the SWTP, or will give improved access to the Enterprise Zone. If the EZ does need a new link road and better connectivity it obviously should be to the east”, said IOC leader Cllr Anthony Powers.

Outlining the road as issue for next year’s local election, IOC says land for the 1000 new houses identified in the council’s core strategy for Hereford’s Southern Urban Expansion Area  – as well as sites at Three Elms and Holmer - is claimed to be ‘unlocked’ by, and dependant on, the building of a southern link road.

“But the proposed housing site is in fact to the north of the existing road from the A49 to Rotherwas and has already been unlocked by that road. The logic of this claim for the new road is absurd”, said Cllr Harvey.