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"Carry on Council" ignoring Government spending warning on new road?

John Freeman
Is Lancashire County Council still working on its controversial M6 Link Road plan, despite being warned not to by the Government?

In an interview with the Morecambe Visitor last week County Council leader Geoff Driver, while trying to defend the carbon emissions problem posed by the road, let it slip that "recent more detailed calculations show that the figures previously quoted are too high."

However, back in July he was using previously published figures (23,514 extra tonnes of CO2 per anumn) to defend the road. So where have these "recent more detailed calculations" Driver alludes to come from?

Has new research been undertaken despite government warnings in a letter to the County Council on 10th June that any future spending on the project would be at the Council’s own risk, pending the Autumn Spending Review?

"Councillor Driver’s gaffe clearly shows that public money continues to be spent on this road building project," feels David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe. "Yet, at the same time, County is cutting services for the most vulnerable: services for children and young people, children’s homes, community services – it’s a long list."

The Lancashire Evening Post reported earlier this month on at least £22 million in cuts, including £5.2m to be stripped from children and young people’s services and £4.3m to be cut from the council’s environment directorate.

"Despite these cuts, it’s clear what this Council’s number one priority is," argues Gate. "Coun Driver will stop at nothing to get his hands on the £140 million to build the HGV generating road."

"The Council’s own figures suggested that the road would pump an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 into the local environment and that 173 acres of North Lancashire Green Belt would be destroyed. The Council Leader is trying to play down the environmental risks, but at the same time he is responsible by law for cutting carbon emissions."

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe opposes the construction of the Heysham M6 Link Northern Route, and favours instead non-damaging sustainable transport solutions.