THE leader of South Lakeland District Council has warned that a Northern Relief Road for Kendal will not happen - unless the county council decides to take the project seriously.

Coun Peter Thornton said the county authority needed a costed plan and to decide on a specific route or the Government would be unlikely to contribute funds to any project.

Coun Thornton today told a meeting of SLDC’s ruling Lib-Dem Cabinet: “The route isn’t tied down and there isn’t a costed plan. If we don’t have the route tied down then it won’t happen. If it ain’t digger ready, you don’t get the money.”

“The challenge for Cumbria County Council is ‘are you prepared to cost and develop this on the basis there isn’t the money now but there might be the possibility of money for it in the future?”

Pressure to reinstate the mothballed plan has increased after Coun James Airey, the Conservative group leader on the Lab-Lib Dem run county authority, called for the scheme to be reinstated.

It follows reports of serious delays and problems for businesses in the Station Road area while ongoing £400,000 works are carried out by Network Rail on the bridge at Longpool.

But Coun Jo Stephenson, the Lib Dem finance man on the county council, has cautioned that such funding for a Northern Relief Road does not currently exist in Government.

In future, South Lakeland District Council is going to refer to the scheme in future as the ‘Kendal Northern Development Route’.

This was agreed after Lib Dem frontbencher, Coun Jonathan Brook, said its existing ‘Northern Relief Road’ title does not do it justice in potential funding circles.

Coun Brook explained: “Although it will provide relief, its cost will have to be justified on the development opportunities it will open up.”

Coun David Williams, the Conservative leader on SLDC, said he was ‘delighted’ to see the scheme included in SLDC’s new council plan for the next five years.

Coun Williams said: “Because of the problems at Station Bridge, several businesses are losing tremendous amounts of income. Although I can’t verify it, I have even heard that Morrisons’s takings are down. The sooner a Northern Relief Road comes in, the better.”

Tory councillor Janette Jenkinson, who represents Ulverston West, agreed and explained that the current Greenodd roundabout scheme had been approved after the economic value to the Furness area was illustrated.

Due to a shortage of money and a failure to decide on a route, the plans for a Northern Relief Road have gathered dust in the last few years - despite CCC designating the 3.1 mile long project as a 'priority' in its Local Transport Plan 2006-11.

In a Gazette poll, 72 per cent of respondents would like to see money committed to the project.