A MOVE to axe the proposed Hereford bypass would be political suicide for many councillors, says a former Herefordshire Council leader.

Liberal Democrat group leader Terry James believes that Hereford will get a bypass eventually but at a higher cost.

Work on the proposed western bypass and southern link road in Hereford was paused last year after the local elections.

The new coalition administration, made up of Independent, Green and It’s Our County councillors, agreed to pause and review the two major road schemes.

And Infrastructure and transport cabinet member John Harrington commissioned a review into the Hereford Transport Package and South Wye Transport Package.

The completed review, which has cost around £400,000, has come up with six different proposals including the western bypass and an eastern crossing.

Other options include schemes which focused on improving walking and cycling networks, buses and controlling traffic demand.

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But councillors who scrutinised the report at a meeting earlier this month have asked council leaders to abandon the western bypass and reject other major road schemes apart from an eastern river crossing.

Cabinet is now expected to decide the way forward at a meeting in December.

But councillor James believes a decision to abandon the western bypass will only delay the inevitable.

“I’m afraid they are living in fantasy land and meanwhile many are getting fed up with them,” he said.

“They are just trying to kill the bypass. They got in on a freak result. People were angry with the government so they didn’t turn out to vote.

“It will be a disaster if they abandon the bypass altogether. People are now more wary of public transport due to coronavirus so there is not going to be a decline in cars.

“They know that it is political suicide for many of their members to ditch the bypass.

“Why not have a referendum for the people to decide the matter?”

Ledbury Reporter:

The Conservatives, who are the biggest group on the council, agree and have criticised the ruling administration.

Tory group leader and former council leader Jonathan Lester said: “A bypass will have to be built. It’s just the more you delay it the more it will cost in the long run.

“We are critical of the fact it cost so much money for the review which concludes that if you want to deal with congestion the best way to deal with that is to build a bypass.

“That’s what their own review says. So, they’ve paid £400,000 to find out what we already knew.

“From the Conservatives point of view, it is disappointing that they have had to spend that much money to make the same conclusion.

“They will argue that their report explored other avenues but some of the recommendations of the report focus on the fact there is need for walking, cycling and more investment in buses.

“Well, with the Hereford Transport Package we created had walking, cycling and bus lane elements in it anyway.

“And those measures were to be paid for by government infrastructure grants.”

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But Herefordshire Independents group leader John Hardwick said his colleagues believe an eastern crossing has always been the best solution for the city.

He also believes Hereford needs to manage its traffic lights in a better way and improvements to school transport will be key to alleviating congestion.

“Park and choose needs to be improved and we must consider all residents across the county,” he said.

“It’s not just the city we are looking at but also the rural areas.

“It’s essential we have another river crossing, and our preferred option has been the eastern side.

“This would be a link from Rotherwas to the Ledbury Road.

“We also think a southern link road should be considered.

“If an eastern bridge was forthcoming that continuation south towards the Abergavenny road is important as well.

“All well designed active travel measures taking into account climate change and flooding risk.”

Ledbury Reporter:

It’s Our County group co-leader Liz Harvey said her group has always wished to make a decision based on the evidence.

She said they will back a mix of transport solutions for Hereford.

“It’s Our County was born out of a campaign to protect Hereford city from the damaging effects of out-of-date thinking. In all matters we continue to make our decisions based on the evidence,” she said.

“The council’s recent transport review has shown that previously road solutions have been pursued because local politicians chased the money rather than choosing to deliver the mis of transport solutions that evidence shows will quickly meet the city’s specific needs.

“Looking forward, we will back the mix of transport solutions which delivers the fastest, most cost effective, resilient and sustainable impact on people movement and traffic management for Hereford.”

And Ellie Chowns, Green Party group leader, said the western bypass plans do not make sense.

“It shows clearly what we need to do next: invest in the most cost-effective, people-focused solutions such as walking, cycling and public transport,” she said.

“The review gives us a good basis for a truly future-focused transport strategy that really works for everyone – for our communities, our economy, and our environment.

“The review confirms, as we’ve long suspected, that the tired old western bypass proposal simply makes no sense.

“The bypass idea performed very badly in the options analysis. It also offers very poor value for money as it’s so ridiculously expensive.

“Instead, what the review shows is that by far the best options are the common-sense ones – improving walking, cycling, school transport, etc.

“They offer great ‘bang for buck’ – lots of advantages at relatively low cost. With this clear evidence we can now put old debates behind us and get on with investing in doing things differently and better. It’s time for a fresh start in transport strategy in Hereford, after the delay and lack of ambition of previous Conservative administrations.”

Ledbury Reporter:

Councillor Bob Matthews’ True Independents group are in favour an eastern road linking Rotherwas to the Ledbury Road.

His group has also strongly supported the idea of park and ride at appropriate locations in and around Hereford.

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“Park and ride would greatly reduce the congestion in and around the city and could be linked into the proposed improved public transport service,” he said.

“The economy and environment are the two main issues we need to get right.

“I’ve repeatedly stated that without a thriving local economy a lot of the other important options will not be affordable.

“I suggest an eastern link initially through from Rotherwas to the A438 at the Cock of Tupsley.

“Another river bridge in some form or another should be a top priority.”