Delays to Ely bypass has seen cost increase by £20,000 every week - county council reveals

Ely Bypass. River bridge visualisation from north with walkway.

Ely Bypass. River bridge visualisation from north with walkway. - Credit: Archant

The cost of funding Ely’s long-awaited bypass has ballooned to £35million it was revealed this week – and the figure could yet rise further.

Cllr Bill Hunt

Cllr Bill Hunt - Credit: Archant

Inflation has seen the cost of Ely’s bypass rocket by £4million to £35million in four years and the county council has warned this could be much higher if Eric Pickles calls a public inquiry.

The council said the original estimate was based on 2010 figures which are out of date.

Graham Hughes, director of highways and community ­infrastructure said the extra cost would be met by “prudential borrowing”.

But if Mr Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, decides to hold a public inquiry into the plans, it could delay matters for years – potentially pushing the cost even higher.

Councillor Bill Hunt said he was “frustrated and angry” at the increase.

“The price is going up by a million pounds a year, which is about £20,000 a week, so let’s just get on with it,” he said

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“There will come a point where we have to realise that if we keep messing about for another six months, it will cost us another half-a-million pounds. I’m angry and frustrated by it.

“My concern is that, clearly, at every level of democracy, people want this bypass but we are being messed around by English Heritage and it is costing taxpayers’ money.”

Earlier this month, county councillors voted unanimously to back plans for the bypass, but Mr Pickles issued a ‘holding direction’.

It means that permission for the bypass can only be granted when Mr Pickles decides whether or not he wants to determine the case himself.

There is no timetable at this stage for when a decision by Mr Pickles might come.

English Heritage opposes the bypass, claiming that it will spoil views and the historic setting of Ely Cathedral and has already lobbied Mr Pickles to review the case.