Ahead of a Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting this afternoon (September 28), former council leader Coun David Hitchiner asked member for transport Coun Philip Price and member for economy and growth Coun Graham Biggs to confirm their support for the plan, “for the time being at least”.
The previous Independents for Herefordshire/Green administration had begun developing an outline business case for the new eastern bridge and road connection linking the A438 Ledbury Road with the Rotherwas industrial estate south of the river.
This “will deliver the same benefits to relieve congestion on the A49 as a western bypass at much lower cost and much more quickly”, Coun Hitchiner claimed.
But the cabinet members replied that while the outline business case is due to be completed “in the next few weeks”, the likely cost of the project “has now grown significantly since the original scheme was mooted”.
“It is therefore no longer the cheap scheme that was envisaged,” they said.
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Rather, to “deliver the best value and rate of return” the current Conservative administration “is seeking to explore the development potential that the creation of a western bypass will present”.
Reviving the western city bypass was a central pledge of the Conservatives’ successful election campaign in the county last May. The project was cancelled by the previous administration in 2019.
Local Conservative MP Jesse Norman, who is a Government transport minister, has campaigned for an eastern crossing for many years , while saying that the western crossing was a matter for the local party. He has been approached for comment.