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Bypass delay ‘has cost us £13million’

Ely Southern Bypass cgi
Ely Southern Bypass cgi

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer’s criticism of the time taken for the Ely bypass “has cost us dear”, according to a Liberal Democrat spokesman.

Ely Southern Bypass map
Ely Southern Bypass map

Cllr John Williams made the comments after it was revealed that the cost of the project has increased by £13million – an increase of almost a third.

He said: “Mayor Palmer’s widely reported criticisms of the time taken to undertake the bypass project has cost us dear.

“Cambridgeshire County Council now has to borrow £13m which council taxpayers will have to pay back with interest. Money we could be spending on our deteriorating roads and footpaths.”

The bypass will provide a huge boost for the area and will ease congestion in and around Ely by providing a new link between Stuntney Causeway and Angel Drove.

The new route will remove the need for heavy goods vehicles to use the railway level crossing, and avoid an accident-prone low-bridge.

Construction is progressing well, with the eastern, central and western embankments built.

The abutments, which is where the bridge starts and ends, and the central pier over the railway are also complete. The steel beams, which form the bridge decks, have been lifted into place.

Working with partners, the county council found the initial funding to develop the much-needed scheme as early as possible, so as to get the work under way. Tricky conditions such as building on a floodplain and near a national heritage site has led to increased costs.

Mr Palmer responded: “While the Ely Bypass is very much a Cambridgeshire County Council-led project I make no apologies in my former role as leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council for pressing to get this project delivered as quickly as possible for Ely.

“With funding in place, there was a golden opportunity for the county council to deliver the southern bypass, and while the increased cost is unfortunate, the funding needed would have been much the same if it had been stalled – and may not have been available at all.

“While Liberal Democrat county councillor John Williams is happy to deride this much-needed project for Ely, his party’s dithering over finding a workable solution on the bypass is perhaps one reason why voters looked elsewhere at the last county council elections in 2017.”

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