Sir Edward Leigh MP has welcomed assurances from the Rt. Hon. John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Transport, following a meeting with local county, district and parish councillors and representatives of the campaign to save Hawthorn Road from closure, about the scheme's funding from central government.
Concern has been raised by local residents that the scheme, as currently proposed, will lead to the closure of Hawthorn Road in Greetwell, just prior to the boundary of the city of Lincoln, having a detrimental effect on the ability of local people to commute to and from Lincoln. The group protesting the closure does not question, nor oppose, the bypass. However, they consider the retention of the road, as a carriage way, essential.
One of the group's spokesmen, Mrs. Sally Lidbury, told the minister:
"Our objective is to seek support from the Department for Transport to facilitate a minor change to the current scheme. We are not here to ask for additional funding, or short-cuts in the policy process. We strongly support the Lincoln Eastern Bypass but object to the closure of Hawthorn Road. We feel that residents will be disproportionally disadvantaged as a result of the closure under current plans."
Following the meeting District Councillor Giles McNeill, who represents the parish of Greetwell where the proposed closure is designated to occur, said:
"I think Lincolnshire County Council have been unsure as to the security, after the end of the current financial year, of the £49.5million being supplied to the project by central government. The minister has been able to reiterate the assurances of the Secretary of State that the money - key to making this project happen - will not automatically disappear in March next year. I am confident that Lincolnshire County Council will want to be absolutely certain that the cost of retaining the use of the road for motor vehicles is not prohibitive, but would expect that a revision is now very much something the county council will want to pursue."
Cllr. Ian Fleetwood, who represents Cherry Willingham and Reepham, at Lincolnshire County Council, said:
"If the money is not going to vanish I can’t see why the county council will not engage with the local residents to see if an affordable option is open to them. The minister was able to point us in the direction of the Local Enterprise Partnership which has just got additional monies from central government, and may be able to support the marginal additional cost of a road bridge, estimated at around £100,000 on the £96million scheme."
Sir Edward Leigh MP said:
"This meeting has been very positive and productive. I welcome the minister's offer to help support the common sense of retaining the vehicular access on Hawthorn Road. I hope to work with Lincoln's Member of Parliament, Karl McCartney, to persuade Lincolnshire County Council to think again and make this minor change and am fully prepared to bid for money from the LEP."
The minister agreed to write to the county council to provide additional details regarding the funding arrangements.