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Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Campaigners ask new Transport Secretary to scrap Shrewsbury Relief Road

Campaigners against the North West Relief Road (NWRR) in Shrewsbury have sent a letter to the new Labour Secretary of Transport, Louise Haigh MP, asking her to scrap the controversial scheme.

Protesters gathered at part of the route the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road will take
Protesters gathered at part of the route the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road will take

Mike Streetly, speaking on behalf of Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST), says:

“With the election of a new Labour government and a Labour MP for Shrewsbury, it is clear that voters do not want this costly and environmentally damaging road.

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“Daniel Kawczynski was the only candidate in Shrewsbury who campaigned for it. His resounding defeat at the ballot box shows there is no “silent majority” in favour of the road. With a new government elected on a promise of change, it’s time to scrap this Tory folly.”

The letter outlines the case against the NWRR, from its environmental destruction, spiralling costs, and the lack of evidence that it will solve Shrewsbury’s congestion issues.

It also calls for funding to be reallocated to sustainable and active travel transport schemes like Shrewsbury Moves, saying of the latter: ‘This is exactly the type of scheme that we feel is needed to move the UK’s transport system into the 21st Century whilst freeing up large areas of the town centre currently committed to car parking for high density, affordable homes and social housing.’

Before the general election was announced, Shropshire Council had claimed that the NWRR was ‘fully funded’, even though there was no letter of agreement from the Department for Transport (DfT) to confirm this.

With a new government in charge, the council now faces urgent questions about who will pay the spiralling costs of the project, which have more than doubled since 2019.

If the road does not proceed, the DfT could ask Shropshire Council to repay the £28m spent on the project to date. Without a road constructed, any spending would be moved from the council’s capital budget to the revenue budget – which is already facing a massive black hole.

Mike Streetly said: “Shropshire Council has totally misled residents about the road’s funding while gambling everything on the DfT writing a blank cheque for this project. Now it’s time to see if the emperor is wearing any clothes.

“If the Conservative administration can’t secure full funding for the road, Shropshire Council runs a very real risk of going bankrupt as it tries to cover the spiralling costs itself.

“This will have a devastating impact on local services and vulnerable residents. The least worst option is to scrap this project before it haemorrhages any more money.

“This is why we have written to the new transport secretary. Shrewsbury voted for change and we need this government to deliver it.”

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