Rosie Cooper, Labour MP for West Lancashire, is angry at the lack of local consultation and public scrutiny in setting the new regional transport scheme priorities and is calling on West Lancashire District Council, Lancashire County Council and Sefton MBC not to give up for the fight yet to see the Ormskirk by-pass built.
In recent weeks Government asked each region to put forward their regional transport scheme priorities. Unfortunately, the Ormskirk by-pass did not make into the top priorities – on either the Government Office of the North West list or in the North West Regional Assembly’s draft Regional Spatial Strategy.
Government had stipulated these priorities should be established following local consultation. In the North West this has consisted of a single stakeholder meeting for council officers. These priorities have now been submitted to Ministers in the Department for Transport to be reviewed.
Ormskirk by-pass is the second priority in Lancashire County Council’s Local Transport Plan and has been for many years. Building the Ormskirk by-pass is vital for the future of the district, whether it is getting to work in the morning or accessing hospital services. This new road would mean bring real benefit to the people of West Lancashire and beyond.
Rosie Cooper MP said:
“I am appalled at the decision with regard to the Ormskirk by-pass – not just that the scheme was not included within the top priority category but by the way in which the decision has been made. There has been no consultation with local people or their elected representatives, and that includes me as the MP.”
“As such we have had no opportunity to scrutinise how these decisions were made. When such large amounts of public monies are to be invested then they must be made in an open and transparent way. But they just seem to be shrouded in secrecy on this occasion.”
“If the consultants or the regional bodies had consulted then they would better understand just how important the Ormskirk by-pass is to the town and the surrounding areas. If it isn’t built then the town centre faces gridlock, and in other parts of the constituency a threat to life and limb as ever bigger HGV’s thunder along unsuitable roads."
“Given the complete lack of consultation in setting these transport priorities I am calling on West Lancashire District Council, Lancashire County Council and Sefton MBC to fight with me for the Ormskirk by-pass. As the MP I will speak up for the silent majority.”
“I appreciate this is a major blow to those championing the Ormskirk by-pass but we cannot give up at the first hurdle. The Department for Transport is in the process of considering these priorities and while a final decision is still to be reached then we must object at every turn. We must fight the corner of the Ormskirk by-pass. This was just one battle, the war is still to be fought and can be won."
“We must ensure the full weight of our commitment to this project is felt by those making the decisions.”
“I began the fight last week when I met with Karen Buck MP at the Transport Department to fight the corner for Ormskirk by-pass. I made it clear this project is key to unlocking the potential of the district and improving the lives of local people.”
“Having spoken to Lancashire County Council they continue to plough ahead in their work ready for submitting a planning application for the by-pass by the end of 2006.”
“We must also explore the other options available for funding the scheme. But if we all believe this project is for the good of the people of West Lancashire then we must exhaust all avenues. There is no doubt it will be a hard fight in the face of the regional priorities but it is a fight we must take head-on."