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M6 Link route "not ideal", Morecambe MP admits

John Freeman
Morecambe MP David Morris has admitted the proposed northern route for the M6 link, backed by Lancashire County but not our City or Morecambe Council, is not ideal - but argues an imperfect route is better than nothing when it comes to improving the area's transport links.

Responding to constituent concerns about Lancaster County Council's apparent approach to the current Link road consultation process, Mr Morris wrote that he agreed "the route chosen for the M6 (sic) is not ideal and I believe the alternative would have been preferable.

"However, by the time I was elected as MP for Morecambe and Lunsedale the route had already been set and I was given the choice of this imperfect route or the road not being built at all."

Meanwhile, Lancashire County Council has responded to concerns raised about the way it has handled the consultation, which have met with criticism from various quarters, including Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe.

Critics argue the Council has deliberately given the impression only design elements of the Link road plan can be objected to. In fact, under the terms of the scheme's consideration by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (PDF), it is clear that it is possible for residents to protest about the entire scheme.

Defending its approach, the Council says the IPC process is very different from the previous planning process used for the Heysham Link.

"One of the main changes is the difference between the consultation and examination processes," says Steven McCreesh, who is Project Director for Heysham to M6 Link. "We are currently consulting on the design and look of the proposals that we will build if we get development consent.

"It is quite clear from our literature and the display boards at the exhibitions that we are consulting on the whole scheme," he argues. "We are highlighting the changes made to the scheme that already has planning permission so that residents know what has changed. This is a period to shape the proposals, not to object or support the scheme.

"After we submit our application to the IPC, the IPC will carry out an examination into the proposals and decide whether to grant consent or not. This will be the time for people to object or support the scheme. The notes from the IPC state that the examination will consider the whole scheme."

Neither Mr McCreesh or Morecambe's MP seem prepared to be drawn into how the County will pay for any cost over runs if  the £140 million road scheme does get the green light. As it stands, it appears any costs over and above the current estimates will have to be met at some stage by Lancashire taxpayers.

But David Morris is categorical that any increased costs will not be borne by local taxpayers. "I agree that taxes are putting far too heavy a weight on residents and for this reason Conservative Councillors recently voted to prevent any increase in council tax," he notes.