Chancellor George Osborne has said that he is ‘happy’ to help Lincoln MP Karl McCartney with his campaign for a dualled Eastern Bypass, just days before a final decision is expected on a single carriageway version of the project.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on December 9, McCartney emphasised the need for a bypass which has been “delayed by bureaucracy for nearly 100 years.”
He said: “What would my right hon friend say to my constituents, should he visit the beautiful city of Lincoln, other than any new road is eventually better than no road?”
Chancellor Osborne replied that he had spoken to McCartney and listened to his concerns that the bypass is not big enough and that it needed to be dualled.
He added: “Let’s continue to have those conversations and what we need, both of us, is to make sure that the local authority agree with his assessment as well and I’m happy to help him in that task.”
The conversation at PMQs appears to have added to the confusion, with Lincolnshire County Council’s Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, Richard Davies, again confirming that the Department for Transport had said that no money was available for dualling the bypass.
He said: “The government spending review in 2010 required us to reduce the cost of the bypass to secure £50 million of funding.
“This forced our hand and we had to reduce the bypass to a single carriageway which is what we have secured planning permission for.
“Further correspondence with the Department for Transport has confirmed that there is no additional funding available for dualling the bypass.”
Councillor Davies has previously said that no money was available from central government for a dualled bypass, which was why the council had submitted an application for a single carriageway.
However, in the months leading up to the general election, McCartney said that he had received reassurances from ministers including the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLaughlin, that the government would support the dualling of the bypass in principle.
A second public inquiry was held in August 2015 to consider the cases for and against Compulsory Purchase (CPO) and Side Roads Orders that are needed for work on the bypass to proceed.
A decision on whether the Lincoln Eastern Bypass project is approved is expected by the end of the year.
If the project is given the green light, work is likely to commence in the middle of 2016, with the bypass taking a further three years to complete.
The road would run from the roundabout at Wragby Road to a new roundabout at Sleaford Road on the A15.