A prominent politician said Bedford has a ‘really bright future’ on a visit to announce the final stretch of Bedford bypass receiving the green light.
Dan Rogerson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, inspected the proposed site of the final jigsaw of the town’s western bypass which will link the A4280 at Biddenham and Bromham with the A6 at Clapham.
He met Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson at Deep Spinny roundabout, near Biddenham, on Monday, July 7.
It will end the long-running saga of the construction of a completed Bedford Western Bypass which has featured in local and national plans for more than 50 years.
The Minister said: “Local areas such as Mayor Dave’s region have come forward with the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) to deliver the Western bypass here. I know he has been campaigning for a long time to get the route secured and the money that is coming from central government will make that happen and will make a big difference in Bedford, resulting in greater prosperity and really good quality jobs coming to the town.”
Mr Rogerson, who was a councillor in Bedford before becoming an MP for North Cornwall in 2005, told the Times and Citizen he was still passionately interested in the town.
He said: “I’ve kept up with all the exciting things happening here including the investment for the new cinema and I think Bedford has a really bright future - but if you have hold-ups and traffic problems there are issues with air quality - so this bypass will make all the difference with people wanting to get around.”
Ironically just as the Minister was speaking a disgruntled cyclist was forced to ride around the parked ministerial car which blocked her access.
The Minister continued: “This bypass will really help Bedford to grow.”
When asked if the ex-Bedford councillor intended to use the bypass, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management said: “If I’m back in Bedford I look forward to seeing this project - which has a very ambitious timescale and is testament to how committed everybody here is to seeing that growth come forward - so I shall look forward to seeing it when it’s open.
“I have very happy memories of Bedford, I worked for the borough council and at the university here. It’s a fantastic town. It’s got a great Victorian heritage but it’s also very forward looking. It’s a crucially located place with so many opportunities to help cement Bedford’s place at the heart of future economic prosperity.
“I think with the future Mayoral election and the General Election there will be a lot of eyes upon Bedford. It’s a real pleasure to be back here in Bedford and to hear things are going so well and on behalf of the government to offer this money as part of the growth deal.”
Hilary Chipping, head of infrasture at SEMLAP which is being awarded £31m to boost growth and create jobs and investment in the region, said: “We submitted a stragic plan to the government to support economic growth in this area. This bypass is a really vital link to get around - I will certainly be using the bypass myself. It will reduce congestion in the High Street as well as opening up development for new jobs and homes for the people of Bedford.”
A series of obstacles has now been overcome due to the Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) acquiring land needed for the road to complete the final section of the Western Bypass and the council has now reached agreement with all the principal landowners and all objections to the orders have been withdrawn.
Mayor Dave said: “This gives us a link between the A421, A428 and the A6, because at the moment if you’re in Clapham for example at 8.30am it’s a bit of a disaster, you have to go through Box End, Oakley, Bromham - but with the new bypasss you’ll be able to get across to the A1/M1.
“So in terms of our connectivity for our business it will be great - it’s a win-win situation. We are going to have growth in terms of houses and jobs. There will also be between 1,100 and 1,300 new houses built plus around 800 new jobs in this area.
“It removes traffic from the town centre - the impact on the town centre will be massive. The money from the government will allow us to complete this project. We’ve gone out to tender and we’re hopeful that we will have the diggers on site this side of Christmas.”
“There are also safety issues. At the moment some people speed through places like Box End which isn’t very nice for the residents.
“It’s really great the Minister is here - my wife was his agent when he was a councillor here in Bedford - it’s very odd to think he’s a Minister and I’m the Mayor after all those years!”
The Minister also revealed he missed Bedford Clangers although he added: “As a Cornishman Cornish pasties are at the heart of my thinking!”