Statements from The Marches LEP and Herefordshire Council on the South Wye Transport Package.
Mandy Thorn MBE, Chair of the Marches LEP, said:
“The South Wye Transport Package was allocated £27m of Government Growth Deal funding in 2017 via the Marches LEP. Government rules on how and when Growth Deal funding is spent are very clear.
“The decision by Herefordshire Council to review the South Wye Transport Package means it will now not be in position to meet the terms of the original funding agreement which required £27m of funds to be incurred by March 31 2021.
“In order that this funding is not lost entirely to the Marches region, the LEP Board will consider a number of other independently assessed projects which could utilise the allocation within the Government set deadlines in due course.
“The Marches LEP has been invited and accepted a place on the council’s transport review panel and has made clear that the decision to re-allocate funding at this stage does not preclude or prejudice any future funding bid for transport infrastructure projects in Herefordshire.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with our Herefordshire partners in the coming weeks and months as the council completes its review.”
Cllr John Harrington, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport at Herefordshire Council, said:
“We are disappointed, but we understand the reasons why the Marches LEP made this decision.
“When we arrived as an administration in May 2019, it became evident that this scheme needed to be rigorously examined, as after five years of work there was no complete business case, costs had increased significantly and there were issues related to tendering and planning permissions.
“We had recognised that holding a review into the proposed road schemes would risk losing this funding opportunity, however it is imperative that the council’s decision-making is fully informed by the latest information, policies and best practice.
“Decisions we take regarding infrastructure now will have a permanent impact upon the environment which last for generations to come, so we must make the right decisions.
“Any major road scheme should address the issues it sets out to, so we must take the time to ensure the most effective use of public funds to tackle current travel issues, such as congestion, air quality and the climate emergency.
“We look forward to involving the Marches LEP in the Hereford transport strategy review and have submitted a number of proposals for consideration on the reallocation of the funds.”