Last ditch bid to secure crucial Melton bypass funding

A petition signed by more than 2,000 people has this morning (Monday) been delivered to County Hall in a desperate 11th hour bid to get Leicestershire County Council to reconsider its intention of rejecting millions of pounds in government funding towards the cost of Melton’s partial bypass.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 1:22 pm
Melton Borough Council leader, Councillor Joe Orson, delivers a petition to County Hall calling on Leicestershire County Council to reconsider its intention to reject £15milllion in government funding towards a proposed southern link to Melton's approve partial bypass EMN-210621-124759001

County councillors will decide tomorrow afternoon whether to accept the £15million contribution to the proposed £28million southern link to the approved north and east sections of the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR).

But the authority announced last week that it intended to refuse the funding because it could not afford to take the risk of pledging the forward funding needed for the scheme and its infrastructure.

Melton Borough Council is urging County Hall to reconsider and thousands have signed a petition in support of their stance, with leader, Councillor Joe Orson, delivering it today along with a strongly-worded letter.

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

Melton’s position is also supported by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Melton MP Alicia Kearns, who have both also written to the county council.

This follows a letter calling for the funding to be accepted sent jointly by the other district council leaders in Leicestershire.

Councillor Orson says in his his letter that ‘no-one wants you to do what you are proposing’, and he reiterates the borough council’s offer to work with County Hall, the prospective developers and government agencies to secure the money and deliver the road.

He said not building the link to the south would threaten plans to build a second GP surgery in the town as part of the development project.

A report to go before tomorrow’s county council meeting states that it cannot jeopardise the financial viability of the authority if it forwards funds the £55million needed for the southern bypass scheme because it would not be confident it could recoup the money from developers building houses in that part of town.

County Hall blames the borough council for not putting a secure masterplan in place for the development and for not offered to shoulder the financial risk for the forward funding.

The borough council responded angrily last week and said it did not have the budget to put forward and that the county council, as highways authority, should be footing the bill.

The online petition can still be signed at ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.

This is Councillor Orson’s full letter to county council leader, Nick Rushton:

Dear Nick,

On Tuesday, the County Council’s Cabinet will make one of the most important decisions about Melton’s future prosperity for a generation.

If you reject the Housing Infrastructure Fund, the southern bypass may never get built, and the key southern neighbourhood, poised to deliver over 2,000 much needed homes may be fatally undermined.

Congestion will get worse and it will be open season for developers in Melton, and the communities in our town and villages will pay the price.

No-one wants to do this:

• 6 District Council Leaders in Leicestershire have written to you expressing significant concerns about the approach you are taking.

• Alicia Kearns MP has written asking you to accept the grant and deliver the road.

• The RH Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State, has also now written to you asking

the County Council to rethink.

• And since last Monday, over 2,100 people have signed a petition calling on you to fulfil your promise and deliver the road.

The petition accompanies this letter and I ask that both this letter and the petition are considered by your Cabinet at your meeting tomorrow.

To help the County Council manage the risks involved, Melton Borough Council has already:

• Secured over 99% of developer contributions requested by the County Council in the last 5 years.

• Formally agreed to ‘flex’ Local Plan policy requirements in favour of the County Council so developer contributions for education will be significantly boosted.

• Produced a Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document which prioritises the recovery of contributions for highways and education above all over infrastructure requirements.

As we have repeatedly said, the Borough Council remain ready to continue negotiations and enter an agreement to underwrite any shortfall arising from matters within our control, and up to a reasonable maximum.

Prospective developers and colleagues at MHCLG and Homes England are also ready to resume discussions so we can find a way forward.

No-one wants you to do what you are proposing.

I urge you not to reject the HIF, but to work with us to secure this funding and deliver the homes, jobs and prosperity Melton deserves.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Joe Orson

Leader – Melton Borough Council