'Get on with it' message as council commits £1m to Isham bypass

It is clear the patience of Wellingborough council is now running out after 40 years of waiting for the bypass.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 2:04 pm
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 2:06 pm
The bypass is the longest awaited road in Northamptonshire.

Wellingborough Council has committed £1m to getting the design work on the Isham bypass started and has called on the county council to ‘get on with it’.

After 40 years of waiting, patience and goodwill appears to have now run out as councillors from all parties took Northamptonshire County Council’s new chief officer in charge of road planning, Graeme Kane, to task at the resources meeting on Wednesday night (March 11) .

Before voting to put up the colossal sum to get the county’s longest-awaited road up and running, the councillors questioned the officer on the county council’s commitment to the road but were told that the county authority was not putting up any of its cash towards the busy road that links Kettering and Wellingborough.

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New county council director Graeme Kane said at the meeting the county council had not committed any money to the project.

Mr Kane, who only started in post in February, said: “Northamptonshire County Council has not set any money aside to develop this scheme. We are not in that position. There is not the capital money there to build out this scheme.”

NCC’s cabinet earlier this week agreed £4m towards a programme of transport studies and highways preparation schemes across the county. However although on the list, no specific funding was assigned to the Isham Bypass.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Andrew Scarborough was not impressed by Mr Kane’s news that there would be no money put up by NCC.

He said: “I sense that we are at square one. The road is on an approved list of schemes but is not prioritised. And that the county council is bringing nothing to the party. I get the sense that the Isham bypass does not have any status around priorities. My assumption is that the £1m we are going to contribute is for a revision of that existing scheme.”

According to Wellingborogh's chief executive Liz Elliott, funding from the Major Roads Network fund has been earmarked for the Isham bypass.

Wellingborough Council’s chief executive Liz Elliott said millions had been earmarked towards the road from Major Road Networks Fund and it could be freed up by putting a business plan together.

And leader Martin Griffiths assured the councillors that the bypass would become a reality saying: “We are not going to roll down to the bottom of that hill again.”

A need for the bypass was first announced in the early 1980s and traffic has risen now risen to 26,000 cars per day. Villagers’ hopes were shattered in 2018 when £25m of funding towards the scheme was pulled because the remaining £15m could not be found.

Former leader of the council Cllr Paul Bell, who has been a councillor since 1986, did not pull any punches at the meeting saying when first agreed the road was due to cost £12m. The estimates now are closer to £50m.

He said: “I want an assurance from the county council that they will push it to the top of the list. It is now time the county council, with the money we are giving them, gets on with it.”

It is the county council’s responsibility to plan and fund road infrastructure however the borough council is using £1m from the sale of land at Wellingborough North to pay for consultancy work.

Planning permission was granted for the road eight years ago, but runs out in 2022 and it looks like the council will now have to reapply for planning permission.

Cllr Peter Morrell said he was annoyed that developers DB Symmetry, who are building a logistics park outside Isham, had been given permission this week by Kettering Council’s planning committee to dual the A509 leading up to the village. He said the move would not help Isham ‘one bit’.

The start of the bypass was to take a different route from the A509 but there are now suggestions the new dual carriageway could form the first phase of the bypass and take cars very close to the village entrance before diverting.

All councillors agreed to approve the £1m funds to hand over to NCC to get the preparation work going.