Local residents, including your Marbury Councillors, were disappointed recently when Cheshire West and Chester Council failed in their bid to get funding, from the Levelling Up Fund, for a new Winnington bridge.
Esther McVey MP and Councillors Lynn Gibbon, Phil Marshall and Norman Wright had made it clear that a new Winnington bridge was vital for the area. They had all supported the project and can’t believe an incomplete bid was submitted for such an essential scheme.
The existing crossing was not built for the weight of modern traffic and local housebuilding that has already taken place locally- and the additional sites already granted permission by Cheshire West, will just exacerbate the pinch point that is the bridge.
The government have now provided feedback on the bid -and why it didn’t succeed- and it is clear there was significant gaps in the plan put forward by the Labour-led council.
The government acknowledges that, overall, the crossing fits the requirements of the bid but there was significant supporting detail missing. There was no information about the impact on the A533, no evidence to support how they had arrived at some of their conclusions or how the bridge would work with walking and cycling routes or improve bus service reliability.
The council also doesn’t have a plan if local landowners don’t want to sell them the land required and have subsequently admitted they don’t even know who all the owners are; the government, understandably, won’t invest public funds without confidence the council has a workable plan.
Norman Wright asks ‘Why didn’t the council ask for help identifying landowners? This weakened the bid by preventing discussions on securing future ownership of all the required land beforehand’.
Most shocking of all is that there was insufficient detail on the effects of the bridge on the A559 Marston Lane. It is difficult to imagine how this section of road is even being discussed as part of the plan given that it isn’t local- if officers were more aware of this area, they would know that was the case.
Lynn Gibbon asked CWaC officers to explain how this road was even in the plan. It was a question they couldn’t answer. Lynn commented, ‘I am really disappointed that the officer team have produced a bid document that fails to provide the required information to allow the government to support it’.
Phil Marshall adds, ‘I raised the point regarding active travel and the possibilities north of the Weaver for walking and cycling when the bid was being drafted, but was told that this would come later. Clearly the bid assessors thought differently. This is really disappointing and a huge opportunity missed It was an ambitious bid but lacked detail’.
There is another round of bidding and the Council can resubmit their application at that point. MP Esther McVey adds, ‘It is incomprehensible that the council put in such a poor bid and failed to get this vital infrastructure for the area. It can’t be right that they managed to get funding for Ellesmere Port with a bid that was adequate, yet failed to do that for this part of the borough’.
Lynn, Phil, Norman and Esther will be pushing the Labour-led council to ensure we are not let down again.