In Jesse Norman’s letter of July 4 about the Hereford Bypass and Southern Link Road there are many inaccuracies that, for the public record, need to be corrected.

Myth No 1: That if the Southern Link Road (SLR) is stopped, the council will have to refund monies to the Marches LEP.

This is not so. In fact, the previous Herefordshire Conservative administration has given assurances that the £3.8million received to date from the Marches LEP local growth fund provisionally allocated for the SLR is a grant not a loan and does not require repayment.

This has been clearly stated in written answers to public questions.

To the end of 2018/19 the budgeted expenditure on this road totalled £7.468million.

The other £3.668million spent on this project has come from the council’s Local Transport Plan.

I understand that this money has been diverted from the Local Transport grant fund intended for tackling potholes in the existing road infrastructure.

Myth No 2: That growth fund monies cannot be spent on similar projects in Herefordshire County.

In his letter to the Council Dec 2015, raising concerns over the planning application for the SLR, Jesse Norman stated that: If the MP’s original comments are to be believed, it follows that if the new administration can provide a robust business case that active travel measures such as better public transport/walking/cycling infrastructure deliver better value for money than the SLR then the £35million allocated for this project could be used for such a project for South Wye instead.

Myth No 3: That as much as £10 million has been spent on the SLR to date.

To the end of the 2018/19 financial year the Council had only budgeted to spend £7.486million on the SLR.

While it is shocking that as much as £7.5m has been spent so far on a scheme for which there is no full business case, it is not clear how Mr. Norman arrived at his figure of £10 million.

As Jesse Norman has moved from being a Minister of State for Transport to HM Treasury, I had hoped that his previous passion for investment in safe cycling and walking infrastructure could influence how public money is spent in providing vibrant, sustainable and resilient local economies; improving the nation’s health and supporting the Government’s aim to reduce carbon emissions.

For a county like Herefordshire, spending £180million that can only be used for building a road that he admits will undoubtedly increase city congestion, pollution and car use, would indicate that sadly the real needs of local people and local authorities are not understood in Westminster.

Mrs E Morawiecka


Biggest myths

Jesse Norman’s “myth busting” letter conveniently misses the two biggest myths (1) new roads solve congestion problems.

They do not. They always generate new traffic and this is official and fully documented in a UK government report from the “Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment” (2) new roads allow us to implement a lot of genuinely sustainable transport solutions e.g. cycle paths.

Genuinely sustainable transport solutions do not require a new road to be built in advance of delivery.

They are known as “smarter choices” and are detailed in yet another UK government report.

The case against any new road building in or near Hereford is very strong indeed and the climate emergency makes it stronger.

New road building in and around Hereford is a very good example of a deeply embedded preference for road building, based on ignoring inconvenient evidence and depending on the systematic deletion of well documented and proven alternatives.

Jesse Norman should know better and Herefordshire Council should follow the example of the Welsh Government and the “relief” road around Newport and cancel the Hereford bypass.

Dr John Whitelegg

Editor, World Transport Policy and Practice