EAST Cambridgeshire s future growth could be brought to a shuddering halt after plans for the £15m Ely Southern Bypass were thrown out for the second time. The Government s refusal to back the scheme, which has been shelved for at least 10 years, has left
EAST Cambridgeshire's future growth could be brought to a shuddering halt after plans for the £15m Ely Southern Bypass were thrown out for the second time.
The Government's refusal to back the scheme, which has been shelved for at least 10 years, has left district officials fearing the area will become strangled by a traffic gridlock.
It was hoped the plans would halve traffic on the A142, which passes under Ely's dilapidated rail bridge, and end the traffic chaos caused by HGVs forced to wait at the level crossing for 27 minutes in every hour.
But the bypass has been left out of a list of priority schemes drawn up for the Government by the East of England Regional Assembly's planning panel - meaning Ely will receive none of the Government's £100m budget for transport projects in the region.
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It is the same assembly that has said the district must provide 8,600 new homes under the East of England Plan.
In a letter to the panel, transport secretary Douglas Alexander said "that no funding provision should be made in the Regional Funding Allocation 10-year period" for the Ely bypass.
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Chairman of the Ely Perspective Philip Eden said: "This is very bad news for Ely - the assembly doesn't realise what it is doing to the city.
"Right now, the situation is discouraging people from coming to Ely, it is stopping them from accessing the station easily and it's stopping freight from using the railway station."
Chairman of EERA's regional planning panel and Conservative county councillor, John Reynolds, said prioritising the 145 bids for funding had been a painstaking process.
"Our message to the Government is that all of the schemes should have government funding," he said.
"Ely is not able to grow its economy at the moment and it's really causing a problem. Ely needs a bypass and the county council will be fighting for it when the list is reviewed in two years' time, but we need three or four times as much money from the Government."
Liberal Democrat county councillor for Ely north and east Nigel Bell said the plan is "dead in the water".
"This latest decision has made it quite obvious that the bypass is a non-starter."
He said the county council must now look at medium-term alternatives, including a stacking system that will allow HGVs to build up at the roadside.
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman rejected the suggestion that the bypass plan was dead and said a comprehensive business plan was being put together ahead of the regional transport allocation review in two years' time.