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Lobby group says its A556 proposal is being ‘dismissed’
A LOBBY group believes its MP and a government organisation should be doing more in its quest to put forward an alternative plan for the A556 bypass.
The A556 Lobby Group, made up of local residents, put forward a scheme that would see a link road being created at junction 20 of the M6.
It showed its plans to residents in the area, but decided to present its ‘Junction 20 proposal’ to Tabley residents at Heyrose Golf Club on Thursday.
Chairman Suzi Cowan told the Guardian that around 60 members of the Tabley community turned up at the meeting.
“We were told that we may find it difficult for Tabley people to come out and see our plans, but there were around 60, which was brilliant,” she said.
“We did the presentation and everybody who had previously in favour of the Highways Agency plans really liked our idea.”
The group employed a firm of road consultants to come up with the scheme in a hope of convincing the Highways Agency team, and believes it makes more sense for traffic to travel to junction 20 then take the M56 to Manchester.
But members believe their MP, George Osborne, should be doing more to help them put forward their proposal.
Suzi told the Guardian the group still believed its plan had not been looked at properly by Highways Agency engineers.
“One of our team has a report from the Highways Agency via a Freedom of Information request,” she said.
“It was 30 pages long, and states that a different department was put in charge of looking at our proposal as the team at Highways didn’t want it to be seen as a conflict of interest.
“We think there’s something seriously going wrong, and we don’t think our proposal has been looked at. The powers that be seem to be dismissing it, which is very wrong in a democratic society.”
The office of Tatton MP George Osborne told the Guardian it had recently contacted the Highways Agency, and had received an e-mail from Jeremy Bloom, the project director.
It said: “We have been clear that we have undertaken an initial assessment on the M6 J20 proposal, which we believe indicates poor value for money.
“This is because the modelling shows that the additional journey time associated with the longer route via junction 20 will not provide sufficient benefit to justify the cost of the junction improvement, even if it is significantly lower than that for A556 proposal.
“We are undertaking further detailed assessment in order to provide costs and benefits of the Lobby Group’s proposal, and we will publish our findings in our consultation report when we submit our application to the Planning Inspectorate in February 2013.
“Regarding the suggestion that we have assessed the earlier J20 proposal rather than the version they have developed, the initial work we have undertaken was on the journey time benefits of a J20 improvement. The specific junction configuration is irrelevant to the outcome of such an assessment, which does not take into account the cost of the infrastructure, whilst the journey time differences between the two options are not material.
“Therefore, the work we have undertaken is valid and we have explained this.
“Our further assessment will compare costs and benefits in detail, and I can confirm we are assessing fully the scheme proposed by the Lobby Group.”