'Not a cat in hell's chance' of £40m road for Kendal, SLDC meeting hears (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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'Not a cat in hell's chance' of £40m road for Kendal, SLDC meeting hears
A NEW road aimed at relieving Kendal of heavy traffic would cost over £40 million, councillors have been told.
And a meeting of South Lakeland District Council heard one senior councillor say there is not a ‘cat in hell’s chance’ of any movement on the scheme before the next general election.
In recent weeks, the Northern Relief Road - now called a Northern Development Route - has shot back up the political agenda.
It follows Coun James Airey, leader of the Tories on Cumbria County Council, calling for the mothballed scheme to be revived.
The Lib Dem-controlled SLDC have also included the idea in its new five year plan and it has Westmorland MP Tim Farron’s support.
But Coun Jo Stephenson, leader of the Liberals on the Lab-Lib Dem-run county authority, says the money does not exist for it.
Now another senior councillor has stepped into the debate - Coun Ian Stewart, a Lib Dem county and district councillor.
Coun Stewart told the SLDC meeting that he had recently met with Tory Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin.
“He would rather see government money chopped into £10 million chunks so it could get more done,” Coun Stewart told last night’s meeting.
“The Kendal Northern Development Route is a bigger project than that and this side of what happens in May 2015 (the general election) there’s not a cat in hell’s chance.
"There’s no chance whatsoever unless there was change of administration. Like I said, no chance whatsoever,” said Coun Stewart.
But Coun Andrew Gardiner for the Tory opposition, said: “We need a Northern Relief Road and we need it now and we need to start looking at it now.”
Coun Jo Stephenson, the finance man for the county council, told the meeting that he ‘supported the aspiration’ but the road would not happen until ‘someone in Government tells us they are going to do it.’
But Coun Airey replied: “Jo Stephenson is against this route and doesn’t think it’s a priority. Because of the shoddy Labour-Lib Dem pact on the county council, it’s now on the backburner.”
As Coun Airey continued to challenge Coun Stephenson across the chamber, the Lib Dems’ Clare Fenney-Johnson intervened to ask council chairwoman, the Lib Dem Coun Evelyn Westwood, to bring order.
Coun Feeney-Johnson said Coun Airey’s comments amounted to a ‘personal attack’ and said he needed to abide by the code of conduct for councillors.
But Coun Airey said: “Plenty of members on your side do their politicking in this chamber - if you don’t like politics, resign. Pathetic.”
Lib Dem leader Peter Thornton said: “All Jo is doing is merely stating a fact that they don’t have the money for it - the public don’t know that. The county council is not refusing the route, they’re just saying they haven’t got the money.”
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