Robin Walker, Worcester’s MP, joined forces with Harriett Baldwin MP for West Worcestershire and Sir Peter Luff MP for Mid Worcestershire to press the case for doubling the Carrington Bridge and completing the dualling of the Southern Link Road. They joined the leader of Worcestershire County Council, Councillor Adrian Hardman and its Chief Executive Clare Marchant in a meeting with the Roads Minister Robert Goodwill MP at the Department of Transport.

The three MPs recently visited the site of the bridge with Parliamentary candidate for Mid Worcestershire, Nigel Huddleston to see the traffic bottleneck that it creates and show their support for addressing the problem. As well as being backed by all the local councils, the dualling of the Southern Link Road is a key priority of the Worcestershire LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

They presented the Minister with the case for a full dualling of the vital link road, pointing out that it would unlock growth in jobs and housing for the whole of South Worcestershire and a wider area beyond, that it was essential to the communications of much of the West of the County and would help to address persistent traffic problems in and around Worcester. Robin also pointed out that challenge of flood resilience and the fact that last February, when Worcester’s main city centre bridge was closed by flooding, the Carrington Bridge became the only crossing of the Severn for many miles around. The team also pointed out that the road will provide a vital link for people to reach Worcestershire Parkway station, which is due to open in 2018.

The Minister was impressed by the strong business support for the project and the way in which all the District Councils, the County Council and the LEP have been working together to achieve it. He welcomed the fact that earlier sections of the dualling are already underway and have been funded from a combination of local funding, new homes bonus money and local growth fund bid. Civil Servants were on hand to provide advice and support and these advised that the most likely avenue for funding further improvements would be bids to future rounds of the Local Growth Fund. However the Worcestershire team pointed out that the scale of the improvements needed to dual the viaduct as well as the bridge would most likely require some extra help from the centre.

Commenting on the meeting Robin Walker said:

“It was really useful to be able to press the case for dualling the whole Southern Link including the Carrington Bridge, with the Minister and I am grateful for his advice and engagement on this. He really listened to what we had to say and showed a great deal of interest in the project. There can be no doubt that Worcestershire’s case has been heard and that the Department of Transport now fully appreciates why this road is so important. The next step will be to build the widest coalition of support for the project and to keep drawing attention to it in Parliament. I believe that a combination of the Local Growth Fund and some extra funding from the Department of Transport can make this possible sooner rather than later and I intend to keep pressing for it until it is done.”

“After decades in which Worcester’s roads were debated without any investment or improvement, it is exciting to see dualling work underway and I know that this has only been possible because MPs and councils from all over South Worcestershire have joined forces and worked together. There is consensus that this is the number one strategic roads project for the County and I am determined to see it through.”

Harriett Baldwin, West Worcestershire MP said:

“The Southern Link Road is a vital artery from the Motorway to the world class businesses in West Worcestershire.  It’s been well over capacity for years and it is great to see that the section to the Ketch roundabout will be doubled this year.  However, we are clearly going to need to add more capacity to the stretch from the Ketch to the Powick Roundabout and all the South Worcestershire MPs need to speak with the same voice on this to Government in order to win the funding required for the Carrington Bridge.”

 

Notes to editors:

Worcestershire County Council have produced a special briefing on the case for dualing the Southern Link which can be found here:

http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/downloads/file/4167/southern_link_road_improvements_phases_1_to_4_explained

Worcestershire LEP have made this project one of the key elements of their Strategic Economic Plan which can be found here:

http://www.wlep.co.uk/assets/WLEP-Final-SEP-310314-V-1-1.pdf

It is also supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the FSB, Malvern Hills District Council, Wychavon District Council and Worcester City Council.

Last year Robin backed a public petition to support full dualling of the Southern Link and details of this can be found here:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=48811c89e4bf84843385964e710a849e

Robin has spoken up in Parliament in support of dualling on a number of occasions:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141017/debtext/141017-0003.htm#141017-0003.htm_spnew8

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141201/debtext/141201-0001.htm#141201-0001.htm_spnew205

The meeting on the 27th January was prompted by his question to the Transport Minister on 4th December which can be found here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141204/debtext/141204-0001.htm#141204-0001.htm_spnew7