Fresh hope for crucial Melton bypass funding

A last ditch campaign has succeeded in making County Hall think again on its intention to reject millions of pounds of government funding towards a southern relief road in Melton after a decision was dramatically deferred at a cabinet meeting this afternoon (Tuesday).

By Nick Rennie
Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 2:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 3:07 pm
The route of the approved Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR), connecting north, east and south, and how it would join with the planned southern link section EMN-210614-113312001
The route of the approved Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR), connecting north, east and south, and how it would join with the planned southern link section EMN-210614-113312001

Leicestershire County Council was planning to pull the plug on the £15million Housing Infrastructure Funding (HIF) contribution towards a south link to Melton’s approved bypass because it said it could not afford to forward fund the £55million cost of infrastructure for the scheme.

An angry Melton Borough Council launched an online petition last week calling for public support to get the county to reconsider and it had nearly 2,500 signatories when it was delivered to the county council.

Letters urging County Hall to accept the money were also sent to the authority by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, by Melton MP Alicia Kearns and also by other district council leaders across Leicestershire.

And, this afternoon, county council leader Nick Rushton, told cabinet colleagues the item had been withdrawn from the agenda.

He told them: “The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have helpfully offered to work with the county council to see if we can find a way if the HIF grant can be accepted and I am pleased to take up their offer.

“This will be one last push.”

This afternoon’s development was immediately welcomed by MP. Mrs Kearns, who said: “All levels of government must work together for the communities that we serve. “And I’ve always been forthright in my view that Meltonians need the MMDR to be delivered in full to unlock the bright future that Melton deserves.

“So I welcome Leicestershire County Council’s decision today not to reject the £15m Government grant needed to make the whole bypass a reality, and to re-open conversations with the Ministry for Housing and Local Government, and Melton Borough Council to find a way forward.

“I want to thank the almost 2,500 people who signed the petition, and all those who wrote to the County Council to urge them to back Melton. Together with Melton Borough Council and the Government we have made the case these past few weeks that the Government grant should not be rejected.

“We’re so close to securing this bypass, and we cannot afford to kick this decision down the road again. I hope that all parties can come together quickly and work with the support of Government to make the MMDR a reality.

“As ever, I will do all I can to see our vital bypass delivered in full.”

The deferral also pleased Melton Borough Council leader, Councillor Joe Orson, who reacted: “I am absolutely delighted the county council has listened to everyone who has spoken up in the last week and I want to thank my colleagues at County Hall for recognising they needed to rethink their position.

“Rejecting the HIF grant would have been so counter-productive.

“It would have killed the road and been so damaging for Melton, and we simply cannot allow that to happen.”

Referring to the campaign which culminated him delivering the petition to the county council HQ in Glenfield, he added: “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who signed the petition.

“With nearly 2,500 signatures it shows how important this is to the people of Melton and what can happen when communities unite to bring about change.

“I am also extremely grateful for the support of our MP Alicia Kearns who has worked tirelessly on this issue, alongside the support and assistance received from borough council officers and members, my fellow district council leaders and the MHCLG Secretary of State.

“There is still much to do and I welcome the county council’s commitment to restart discussions with MHCLG to find a way that grant can be accepted and the road built.

“We will continue to support the county council and collectively we must now make this happen.”