“Fantastic news!” Leading figures overjoyed as Eric Pickles decides not to call in Ely bypass

Jim Paice. Picture Steve Williams

Jim Paice. Picture Steve Williams - Credit: Archant

There was jubilation across East Cambridgeshire today as Eric Pickles decided not to call in plans for Ely bypass – clearing the way for work to begin.

Cllr James Palmer

Cllr James Palmer - Credit: Archant

Councillors, MPs and residents alike were united in welcoming the news, which was confirmed in a letter sent to Cambridgeshire County Council today (Thursday).

Work will now begin on finding a contractor capable of taking on the task of building the £35million bypass.

Sir Jim Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, said: “This is fantastic news. I have campaigned for the bypass for many years and I know that the vast majority of local people want this important project to go ahead.

Ely Bypass. Seperated footway and viewing platform.

Ely Bypass. Seperated footway and viewing platform. - Credit: Archant

“We need spades in the ground in 2015 to ensure the bypass is completed as soon as possible. Ely cannot afford any more delays.”

Councillor Tom Hunt said: “I look back to 2011 when many were saying there was no point trying to secure the bypass.

“Someone once gave me a bit of advice, when someone tells you something cannot be done, when they tell you not to bother trying, they are exposing their own limitations, not yours.

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“A huge cross section of people and civic society across the Ely area came together to push for this, they all played their part in the outcome. Great result.”

Councillor James Palmer, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This is fantastic news not just for the people of Ely and Soham but for businesses across Cambridgeshire and the whole of the East of England.

“By letting local people make decisions about local issues, Eric Pickles is allowing communities who truly understand the problems of their area find the solutions. The excellent application by the County Council was very comprehensive and demonstrates to me that they are ready to move forward to get this road built to timetable.

“We have campaigned long and hard for this much needed piece of infrastructure, as it will have a huge, positive impact on East Cambridgeshire.

“Time is now of the essence, with every week that goes by the potential cost of the road will increase.

“This is why I hope we can get to work on the ground as soon as possible, to build the road to end the many years of frustration and help our district to grow and prosper.”

Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the economy and environment committee, said: “This is good news for localism and even better news for Ely which has for years had to put up with this congested and accident blighted crossing.

“The new bypass will help boost the local economy and mean that this important station gateway to the city can be improved.

“I would like to thank the Secretary of State for listening to local arguments about the importance of this bypass and the need for it to be determined locally. We will now get on and build this vital road as soon as possible.”

Ely Standard editor John Elworthy said: “Our readers have shown overwhelming support for the bypass and it is testament to their sheer doggedness that they have refused to be kicked in submission.

“There was a campaign put forward by English Heritage that couldn’t be denied and their views deserved to be heard and discussed.

“Full credit must be given to Cambridgeshire County Council’s even-handedness in debating this issue but in the end, a decision had to be made and we believe this is the right one.

“There can’t be a single person in Cambridgeshire who is not going to benefit from the decision taken by Eric Pickles today.”

North East Cambridgeshire MP, Steve Barclay said: “It is excellent news that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has decided not to call in the application for Ely’s bypass but will instead respect the decision of Cambridgeshire County Council.

“This follows representations to Mr Pickles by my neighbouring MP Sir Jim Paice and myself to respect localism given the strong support for the bypass from the local community.

“Sir Jim and I also met with English Heritage earlier in the year to discuss their concerns about the proposals.

“The bypass is crucial to the area’s transport infrastructure and economic growth, and is needed to alleviate the delays suffered by constituents living in and around Ely, including those in Littleport, Sutton, Mepal, Witcham and Little Downham.

“The scheme has huge support locally from the majority of residents, Ely City Council, the county council, and both local MPs, and there is a very strong economic case for the bypass to go-ahead. I am pleased the Secretary of State has taken this into account.”