Green light for £2.7m Birmingham Road improvements
A VITAL improvement scheme to end the traffic chaos on Birmingham Road in Stratford-upon-Avon is back on the cards after Warwickshire County Council agreed to stump up £2.7million to fund the project.
The brakes appeared to have been slammed on the improvement scheme earlier this year when a bid for funding from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) failed.
The district council in particular came in for much criticism at the time, with some claiming its failure to show that the scheme was ‘shovel ready’ and immediate progress could be made, ultimately led to the bid being doomed from the start.
In the end the scheme lost out to other projects such as improving Nuneaton town centre and the A46 corridor, sparking anger among councillors and the public that Stratford had been overlooked by the CWLEP.
At the time the bid’s failure was announced, a spokesperson from Warwickshire County Council said the authority would pursue other funding sources including developer funding and its own capital funds.
The county council’s decision to opt for the second of those two options effectively brings the Birmingham Road Improvement Scheme, the cornerstone of Stratford’s Transport Strategy, back to life.
Improvements proposed include a new slip road into Tesco, converting the existing two-lane outbound section to inbound from St Peter’s Way to Joseph Way, and widening two lanes between the Regal Road roundabout and Hamlet Way.
District council leader, Cllr Chris Saint (Cons, Shipston North), said: “I was always confident that the county council would provide the funds.
“I’m relieved more than anything that the whole issue is going to be dealt with.
“I was never worried about the improvement scheme, I know that the county council have certain funds set aside for road improvements, and those are topped up independently of any money provided by the CWLEP.
“I believe that the scheme will make a huge difference on Birmingham Road, extensive traffic surveys were undertaken looking at things like improving junctions and reducing the number of traffic lights.”
Cllr Jason Fojtik (Lab, Clopton), who lives off Birmingham Road, told the Herald: “It’s really good news that the pressure that has been brought on the county council to fund this project has worked, people have been waiting a long time for action on Birmingham Road and I hope that progress can be made as soon as possible.
“I think leadership is about having a long-term vision and shaping events rather than simply reacting to them, I believe progress could have been made on Birmingham Road a long time ago had this type of leadership been shown by the district council.”
Newly-reelected Stratford MP, Nadhim Zahawi, a leading organiser of the town’s transport summits, which have worked to identify traffic issues in Stratford for the past four years, said: “I’m very pleased that the county council has committed the funding. We have been working very hard on this scheme, the transport summits have been the widest and most in-depth consultation that have ever been held into transport in this town.
“People were clear that they wanted action on Birmingham Road and I commend the leadership at the county council for providing the funding.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, added: “We have got to address the traffic problems in Stratford and from the Stratford Transport Summits it has become clear that the priority is Birmingham Road.
“One of the issues is that Birmingham Road is a destination in itself. Most towns would have dual carriageways or filter lanes coming down an approach like this.”
Cllr Peter Richards, portfolio holder for housing and infrastructure at Stratford District Council, said: “The commitment from the leader of Warwickshire County Council to fund the online elements of the Birmingham Road improvements is welcomed news and demonstrates that the alleviation of traffic in Stratford is a top priority.”
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