Isham bypass should be put on new unitary agenda

Traffic going through Isham
Traffic going through Isham

Northamptonshire county councillors who failed to deliver on a promise to deliver a bypass for Isham say they hope the new North Northants unitary planned for 2020 will put the road high on its agenda.

After more than three decades of campaigning and waiting the Isham bypass was kicked into the long grass last week after it was announced that £25m of funding from SEMLEP would be lost because the county council could not either fund itself or find a funder for the remaining £16m needed.

At a meeting at the council’s headquarters at One Angel Square in Northampton yesterday conservatives councillors expressed their regret that the scheme, could not proceed and suggested it should be high priority for the new super council likely to replace the county council in coming years.

Cllr Ian Morris, who is responsible for highways, said: “I do share and sympathise that this road isn’t going ahead. Previously we would have had capital to commit to the scheme. Currently we can’t do that. We would have loved to have held onto the SEMLEP money, but it was time sensitive.”

Conservative Cllr Andy Mercer said the road should have been built many years ago instead of the Geddington bypass

“We are going to have to build it. The North Northants unitary will have to negotiate with the government.”

A report presented to the council said the county authority and SEMLEP had recently attempted to get the borough council’s in Kettering and Wellingborough to commit large funds to the scheme to bridge the funding gap but had been refused.

Villagers in Isham are furious about the further delays to the bypass, as the A509 which runs through the village is extremely busy and carries much traffic between Kettering and Wellingborough.

Martin Evans told the conservative cabinet: “You have lost £25m of funding already allocated to it. If one of my staff lost £25m they would have been sacked on the spot. That money was hard earned by SEMLEP in the first place.”

And traffic could increase in Isham before any bypass goes ahead, as a plan for a mega warehouse park near to the village is still looming large.

Kettering Council’s planning committee refused the application from DB Symmetry in April but the company has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.