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Government Spending Review: M6-Heysham Link Letter in Full

John Freeman
Earlier today, we posted a story on developments to the Heysham-M6 Link plan and the reaction to news that it was to form part of a Department for Transport spending review from both Lancashire County Council and campaigners advocating alternative traffic management plans - and reject the road scheme.

Lancashire County Council would seem to have taken spin to new heights in their response to the "stock take". The full text of the letter sent to M6 Link Design team manager Steven McCreesh from Charlie Sunderland at the Regional and Local Major Projects Division at the Department for Transport in London appears to offer a more pessimistic take on the outcome of the review.

It also implies the Council could be wasting a huge amount of taxpayers' money if it continues work on the project while the review is being conducted, especially if the Government decides not to provide funding.

The full text of the letter from Charlie Sunderland from the Department for Transport is as follows:

"I thought I would write to set out the current situation as regards the Regional Funding Programme given the uncertainty over future funding following the election.

"In recent months DfT has, along with HM Treasury, undertaken a stock take of the financial commitments of transport. The main emphasis of that analysis centred on 2010/11 expenditure and the pipeline spend effect in subsequent years. DfT now has a clear spend profile for the coming financial year in place which allowed Ministers to announce a number of new Programme Entry and Full Approval schemes in recent weeks. This stock take was vital in demonstrating affordability and timing of delivery.

"The RFA funding position and priorities remain uncertain until Ministers have set out their spending priorities. This means that at this stage we are unable to confirm funding profiles for any new schemes seeking approvals or for existing schemes seeking Conditional or Full Approval. Given this position, it would be prudent for us to take stock of all business cases seeking approval in order to feed into wider considerations for Ministers over the next few months.

"Your scheme will form part of this stock take. The Department is unlikely to be involved in any discussions with you over the coming months as you work up detailed designs and seek any statutory permissions. However I thought it prudent to write so that you are aware of the current position and could decide whether to continue work on the scheme. If you choose to continue work on your major scheme, it will have to be at your own risk.

"I realise that this may come as a disappointment and builds some uncertainty into your planning process. Through the review we hope to start building greater certainty which will hopefully enable us to restart discussions with promoters in due course.

"At this stage I cannot confirm how long it will take to complete the stock take as it will be dependent on Ministerial decisions and discussions about wider Government spending over the coming months. I shall hopefully be able to update you again in due course when the position is clearer."

County Council pushes on with M6 Link plans despite spending review