Here’s my July Column published in the Warrington Guardian this week.
The recent discussion around Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand ULEZ into outer London seems to have ignited a debate between motorists, who depend on their vehicles for work and personal travel, and an anti-car section of society who appear to take the view all day-to-day activities can be accomplished utilising public transport, cycling or walking.
This debate has been intensified by the Prime Minister’s announcement over the weekend that the Government will be reviewing anti-traffic measures such as low traffic neighbourhoods. Regular readers and followers of mine will recall my opposition to the LTN trial in Westy, an area completely unsuited to such a scheme owing to the surrounding road layout and the traffic funnelling effect of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey crossings.
I’m very glad the council finally saw fit to discontinue the trial, but it does call into question such schemes in other areas of the country where they may be similarly inappropriate. LTNs can well work in city centres where there’s already heavy pedestrian footfall and an extensive public transport network, but they’re not suited to towns which haven’t got the mass transit network in place.
For a lot of people in places like Warrington, a car is not a luxury but a necessity. And because it is often a necessity, I want to see the proper investment and upkeep in our roads network. It’s why I recently held a debate in Parliament to discuss Warrington’s transport infrastructure, where I raised the failure of the Manchester Ship Canal owners, Peel, to consider the needs of motorists and pedestrians in their proposed maintenance works schedule for the swing bridges.
But it goes beyond our existing transport infrastructure. Warrington became a new town in 1968 and since then the population has more than doubled, but investment into roads infrastructure simply hasn’t kept pace with increased demand. An additional high-level crossing, which was planned near to the existing cantilever bridge, has never materialised between Stockton Heath and Latchford, despite land being reserved for it. The council’s plans to build thousands more homes on the green belt in south Warrington will simply add to problems, particularly as the Warrington Western Link is still to be finalised.
The Department for Transport made a conditional offer of £142.5million towards the development of the Western Link bypass, these proposals are currently in limbo because the council is now unable to make up a £57million shortfall.
Agreeing a plan to build new homes without the roads will mean gridlock for years ahead. Cars are the most practical means of transport for many people in Warrington and that’s why it’s right for the Government to be on the side of motorists, and why I remain committed to fighting for proper investment in our roads infrastructure.