Council leader James Palmer joins MPs in urging Eric Pickles to make swift decision on bypass

MP Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary visits HRC New Site

MP Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary visits HRC New Site - Credit: Archant

The leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council has joined two local MPs in calling on Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles to let the decision over the future of the Ely bypass be made locally.

Cllr James Palmer

Cllr James Palmer - Credit: Archant

Last Monday, Cambridgeshire County Council unanimously backed plans for the £30million bypass but, on the eve of the decision, Mr Pickles issued a ‘holding direction’ – delaying approval until he decides whether he wants to intervene.

Mr Pickles could ‘call-in’ the decision, which would trigger a two-week public enquiry and a subsequent report, which, it is feared, would not be completed until 2016.

But, if the minister declines to call it in, the matter would be referred back to the county council for a final decision.

Ely Bypass. An overhead view of how the bypass will come through the city

Ely Bypass. An overhead view of how the bypass will come through the city - Credit: Archant

Cllr James Palmer, leader of the District Council, said: “The future economic growth and success of East Cambridgeshire now resides in the hands of Eric Pickles, who has previously said this is a local issue which should be decided locally and we all hope that he will make the right decision for us all.”

And Cllr Palmer was joined in lobbying the minister by NE and SE Cambridgeshire MPs, Steve Barclay and Sir Jim Paice, who have called for the decision to be made locally.

Mr Barclay said: “I am concerned that Ely’s proposed southern bypass could be delayed due to opposition from English Heritage, who claim the new road will have an adverse impact on views of the city’s cathedral.

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“The vocal opposition from English Heritage could put the whole scheme in jeopardy, or at the very least delay it while it undergoes government scrutiny.

“I have written to Eric Pickles urging him not to call in the application but instead to allow the decision to be made locally by Cambridgeshire County Council.

“Fellow local MP Jim Paice has made a similar plea and we are hoping the Minister will stand by his previous decision, which was to refuse to call in the plans.

“Both myself and Jim have explained just how crucial the bypass is to the area’s transport infrastructure and how much it is needed to alleviate the delays suffered by constituents living in and around Ely.”

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