Cash boost for bypass scheme to cut traffic

editorial image

More than £280,000 will be provided to kickstart plans for a bypass around Ackworth, Pontefract and Featherstone after a campaign of almost 40 years.

Local authority bosses have approved funding for a feasibility study into a proposed South Featherstone Link Road.

Campaigners hope the cash will bring progress on a bypass they have been calling for since 1979 to tackle traffic congestion in towns and villages swamped with thousands of cars every day.

Des Waites, chairman of South East Link Road Action Group (SELRAG) said new homes and rising numbers of people commuting to work had worsened traffic problems over the past 30 years.

Mr Waites said: “We’re happy this has happened. Anything which will bring some progress is great, although we are disappointed it hasn’t happened before.”

Mr Waites said around 10,000 cars a day were passing through Ackworth.

He added: “It’s a commuter belt. If you did a survey in this area I think about 75 per cent of people would say they drive to Leeds, Wakefield, Manchester, Barnsley or Doncaster to work.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority approved the funding at its board meeting on Friday. A sum of £284,000 for the feasibility study will come from a total of £1.8m in funding for infrastructure projects.

Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration, said: “It’s a positive step forward in looking at the potential for a new road south of Featherstone and north of Hemsworth that would benefit both residents and visitors, as well as supporting our regeneration goals for the district.”

SELRAG’s campaign suffered a setback in 2007 when the bypass was overlooked in Wakefield Council’s transport strategy.

In 2009 the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly’s Regional Transport Board also turned down a multi-million pound link road plan.

The Combined Authority said in a statement: “A new South Featherstone Link Road scheme would include a bypass around the Wakefield district towns of Ackworth, Featherstone and Pontefract.

“The new road would unlock land for housing, development and employment opportunities as well as reducing congestion and improving road safety.”