HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 c814
9. Mr. Colin Pickthall (West Lancashire) (Lab)

What assessment he has made of the case for the Ormskirk bypass. [173501]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Kim Howells)

My hon. Friend will know that it is for Lancashire county;council to determine priorities for local road building and to make bids for funding accordingly. I understand that the council proposes to develop and submit a bid for a bypass in 2005 as part of the Lancashire local transport plan. We will certainly consider any such bid on its merits.

Mr. Pickthall

Over the last 50 years it has become a tradition for roads Ministers—and, indeed, shadow roads Ministers—to appear in Ormskirk town centre to say that the congestion is terrible and that the town needs a bypass. Yet we still do not have it. I would hate the current roads Ministers to break that tradition, but I hope that they will turn up to cut the first turf of that much-needed bypass. Would my hon. Friend take it on himself to shake the county council a little to speed the matter up? As I said, we have been waiting for more than half a century.

Dr. Howells

I know that my hon. Friend has worked hard to persuade the local authorities to do something about the bypass. I can give him an undertaking that we will certainly contact Lancashire county council to see how quickly it is proceeding with the project.

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab)

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) will know that the A56 village bypass in my constituency is joint second with his on the Lancashire county council list. I urge the Government to ensure that if the bypass in my constituency is built, it does not go along the line of the old railway and disused Colne to Skipton line and that the track bed is preserved. At some stage in the future, we want to be able to reopen that railway.

Dr. Howells

I will certainly take that valuable information into account.

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