Climate change and cost concerns over proposed £100m road around Featherstone, which may 'create 2,000 jobs'

Public opinion could have huge bearing on whether a new £100m link road around three towns will be built.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 10:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 10:04 am

People across the Wakefield district will be asked for their thoughts on the prospect of a £100m bypass south of Featherstone, which would potentially ease congestion around the town, as well as around Ackworth and Pontefract.

But the council has indicated it will not build the road if a consultation produces an overwhelmingly negative response.

Concerns about carbon emissions and the cost of the project have been expressed and the local authority has stressed they have not committed themselves to the idea.

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The proposed road could potentially cut congestion around Featherstone, Pontefract and Ackworth and create jobs around the Five Towns and Leeds area.

The council has signed off money to fund the consultation, which will last between six and 12 months.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, portfolio holder for transport Matthew Morley said: "I don't want to get people's aspirations up. This is just looking at how feasible the road will be.

"All this is money for a consultation.

"We will listen to what people have to say on it, but we're not committing ourselves at this stage.

Coun Matthew Morley said the road would not be built "if people don't want it".

"There's no point in doing it if people don't want it."

In response, new council leader Denise Jeffery said: "I think that's the right thing to do.

"There are issues with climate change and we have declared an emergency. I think if we do the consultation, then we'll have a final decision to make on whether or not to go ahead with it."

A report going before councillors suggested that the scheme could create up to 2,000 jobs around the Five Towns and Leeds area, but that it would cost around £103m.

Councillor Michael Graham said there was a "balance" to be struck between making towns more accessible and the the needs of the environment.

He added: "I think we need to push for better public transport and encourage people to use it as well.

"But at the same time, roads are always going to be busy."

Local Democracy Reporting Service