Clash over road figures

David Gate
David Gate
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A CAMPAIGN group fighting plans for the £123m Heysham-M6 link claims the case for building the controversial road was “shot to pieces” at last month’s public inquiry.

A series of hearings were held at Lancaster Town Hall and Torrisholme Methodist Church to consider Lancashire County Council’s revised scheme after it was forced to make savings by the Government.

Peter Robotom.

Peter Robotom.

The Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) campaign group, has pointed to project director Steve McCreesh’s admission at the inquiry that the road would not solve Lancaster’s traffic problems.

The group also said that the council had admitted that its 2007 forecast that traffic would increase by 1.5 per cent per year had been proved wrong, with the actual increase just 0.5 per cent per year.

It said the forecast time savings on journeys had been reduced to just five minutes at peak times and that the council had not investigated alternative congestion-busting measures.

“We questioned those figures back in 2007, and time has proved us right,” said TSLM chairman David Gate.

“Now they’re using figures from 2008, and there’s no guarantee they’re correct either.”

County Coun Tim Ashton, the council’s cabinet member for highways, said the authority had always been clear that other measures would be needed to cut city centre traffic.

He said measures already taken had ensured that traffic in the Lancaster area had grown by just 3.6 per cent from 2001 to 2008, rather than 10.6 per cent as predicted.

The council says those have included new cycle lanes and crossing facilities, bus priority measures and car sharing clubs.

Coun Ashton added that problems with access to Morecambe and Heysham would “only get worse” without action.

Peter Robotom, inquiry examiner for the National Infrastructure Directorate, is now considering evidence from the hearings, with a final decision due in early 2013.