The South Wye Transport Package (SWTP) Outline Business Case submitted by the Marches LEP to Central Government described the following components as key elements of the project:-
New link road linking A465 with A49 (the Southern Link Road);
Pedestrian crossing improvements to Belmont Road and A49 in Hereford urban area;
Cycle and walking provision on and off road at A49 and A465;
Residential cycling schemes in Belmont and Bullingham.
This Outline Business Case also provided a breakdown of the Capital costs for the full South Wye Transport Package as:–
A465/A49 Southern Link Road £29,729,000
A465 public realm scheme (to reduce severance and promote active travel) £3,000,000
Cycle & walking schemes in Belmont area £1,000,000
Cycle & walking schemes in Bullingham area £1,000,000
TOTAL COST £34,729,000
Funding for the scheme was approved by Central Government on the basis that the Department for Transport would grant £27 million and Herefordshire Council would match fund the remaining £7,729,000.
In February 2016 Herefordshire’s Full Council Meeting agreed its Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the period 2016/17 to 2019/20 ( Herefordshire Council MTFS 2016/17 onwards ). The MTFS document listed the various capital programmes the Council seeks to fund, up to and including 2019/20. This includes the South Wye Transport Package (SWTP), which is to be funded across the years as follows (page 14 of MTFS):-
2015/16 £1 million,
2016/17 £1 million
2017/18 £12.3 million
Future Years £12.7 million
Total of £27 million.
This means there is a shortfall betweeen the MTFS budget and the South Wye Transport Package (SWTP) Outline Business Case of £7.729 million, the amount Herefordshire Council committed to provide to secure the £27 million Local Growth funding from Central Government.
Will the Government withdraw its’ £27 million grant for the South Wye Transport Project without the contribution Herefordshire Council promised to secure the Local Growth Funding?
Could this explain why the Quarterly Monitoring Returns that Herefordshire Council officers have submitted to the Department for Transport show a cost of the SWTP project of £32.601 million with Herefordshire Council contributing £7.9 million. This is despite the Budget for the SWTP agreed by Councillors in December 2015 and again in February 2016 excluding any contribution from Herefordshire Council.( 160504 Q4 Quarterly Monitoring Report 15-16 submitted by Herefordshire Council to the Dept for Transport1.1.2016 to 31.3.2016 ).
What is the actual budget that officers are working to in Herefordshire Council and what is the project cost the Department for Transport are funding?
If it is the £27 million agreed and adopted by Councillors, how will the full scheme be delivered, including the sustainable transport measures, on top of the cost of a road, now extended to the Clehonger road?
If Herefordshire Council’s budgets are the correct figures, with the SWTP project funding cut by 22%, it would make sense to proceed with as many of the sustainable transport measures possible, ahead of any road building work. The sustainable transport measures will generate bigger benefits to existing residents, have a much higher return on investment and provide better value for money for tax payers than road building.