Southern Bypass For Ely Dismissed As Fantasy by Lib Dems

A CAMPAIGN to build a �28 million southern bypass for Ely has been dismissed as a “fantasy” by Liberal Democrat councillors this week.

A CAMPAIGN to build a �28 million southern bypass for Ely has been dismissed as a “fantasy” by Liberal Democrat councillors this week.

Long-running plans to build a road to relive the congestion at Ely Railway Station need to be scrapped and the council need to urgently start exploring alternatives, according to the Lib Dems who say their Conservative counterparts need to “stop dreaming”.

The Lib Dems also claim the Conservative group has exaggerated the amount of time the Ely railway level crossing will be closed to traffic in the future to keep the bypass plan alive.

Conservative councillors have reacted angrily to the claims, however, and called for an apology.

Ely Lib Dem cllr Nigel Bell said: “The Tories have maintained that in 20 years time the railway crossing will be closed for over 50 minutes of every hour.

“The consultants have reported that at the moment it is closed for 24 minutes of every hour and that it would be closed for 34 minutes by 2030. The consultants conceded that a figure of 50 minutes was ‘not impossible’.”

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“It is time Conservative councillors stopped dreaming and seriously examined alternative solutions to the bypass. They cannot put the district into hock for decades to pay for this.”

An alternative route for the road through the King’s School playing fields would cost nearly �23 million. Although cheaper, the bypass project was rejected numerous times by central and regional government several years ago when it was costed at only �15 million.

The issue was discussed at East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Growth Delivery Working Party recently.

Lib Dem Leader Ian Allen said: “Ely cannot grow in the way that it needs to unless we solve the congestion at the railway station. The Tories are following this fantasy of a southern bypass which will never see the light of day. We need to look at real alternatives now so that we can move forward.”

Conservative councillr Peter Moakes, said: “Our local Liberal Democrats seem to have learnt nothing from their national colleagues about the importance of working in coalition, perhaps if they had they would have spoken to me before they issued an inaccurate news release, I would have happily explained that the times they quote were actually based on a desktop computer model.

“When our consultant actually went down to the level crossing and tested his theory out in real time he found the model underestimated the time the barrier was down and that today the crossing is actually closed for 36 minutes out of every hour and this will increase to 52 minutes by 2030.

“So rather than exaggerating the situation, the consultant has actually confirmed what we had always thought. Now while we are working hard with our colleagues at the county council to tackle this problem for the benefit of our residents and the future development of the district, it would be nice to think councillors Bell and Allen would be preparing an apology.”