Bedford’s Mayor and MP have expressed their disappointment that a bid to create a relief road to reduce congestion has been rejected by the government.
Bedford Borough Council’s bid to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for its Ford End Bridge and Link Road scheme has been rejected by Government.
In a letter sent to the MP for Bedford and Kempston, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Government, Robert Jenrick said that the scheme did not meet the criteria for funding despite demonstrating sufficient “value for money for the taxpayer.”
Last year, Bedford Borough Council, working with Homes England, submitted a bid for £15m of government funding to help reduce congestion at the Prebend Street / Midland Road roundabout.
The new relief road would have linked the bottom of Ashburnham Road with Commercial Road West, reducing the number of cars queuing along Prebend Street and Midland Road, particularly at rush hour, while also helping to improve air quality in the area.
MP for Bedford and Kempston, Mohammad Yasin said, “This is very disappointing news for the people of Bedford who are exasperated with the daily traffic problems around Bedford station and the awful congestion on the five way roundabout with Midland Road and Ford End Road.
“This bid was crucial for Bedford town planning. The station quarter needs urgent attention if it’s going to become the vital interchange hub we anticipate.
“Bedford Borough takes environmental issues very seriously so it’s a blow to see their plans to reduce air pollution prevented by the Government.
“I will meet the Secretary of State to discuss other opportunities to unlock significant future regeneration and development funding following the announcement of the preferred route of East West Rail in February.
“If, as he says in his letter, Mr Jenrick is serious about working closely with Bedford towards an ambitious future vision for the town centre, then it must be made clear that the regeneration of the heavily congested route to the station is vital to the future of the town.”
Mayor Dave Hodgson said, “It is disappointing that this scheme is not to be funded at this time. This road would deliver major benefits, relieving congestion at the Midland Road/Prebend Street roundabout.
“The Council is keen to take the Minister up on his offer to meet and discuss options to take this important scheme forward.”