Growing calls for an Aylesbury bypass have been backed by David Lidington MP, who says it is a ‘flaw’ that the town does not have one.
Mr Lidington said as the town grows there is a need for improved infrastructure and that a bypass would be a good solution.
Spurred on by this support and soaring congestion concerns, an action group which has long campaigned for a bypass says now is the time to reignite the cause.
However, the bypass idea was rebuffed by the man in charge of the county’s road network, Councillor Peter Hardy, who said link roads and encouraging people to use alternate means of transport other than their cars is the solution to congestion worries.
Commuters have been increasingly vocal in recent weeks about Aylesbury’s daily gridlock troubles, and there are fears plans for more housing around the town and the arrival of traffic serving the new Arla dairy near Aston Clinton will add to congestion woes.
Asked whether the town needs a bypass, Aylesbury MP Mr Lidington said: “This is something I have supported for a long time.
“It seems to me that one of many fears is that as Aylesbury grows, how much growth there should be. There will not be the right infrastructure to support the increased traffic.
“It’s not just traffic generated by people living in and working in Aylesbury. Places like Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard are also growing, and there’s always going to be growth from those places.”
The Bypass Aylesbury Now Group presented a petition with 5,000 signatures in support of a bypass to the county council in 2006, but nothing came of it.
Campaigner Dennis Thomas welcomed Mr Lidington’s support and hopes the MP’s respected post in Government and closeness to David Cameron can help drive the movement forward.
Mr Thomas said: “I think it would be a good opportunity to revitalise the situation.
“Without any doubt we need a bypass.”
He added that the improved infrastructure resulting from a bypass would attract new businesses to Aylesbury.
He said: “Money is being lost because we are not attracting all the business that we should be getting here.
“I know it all costs money but it seems to me some people have been a bit short-sighted. For the town to progress they’ve got to speculate.”
Arla HGVs and employees are expected to use the town’s road network, and although the company has pledged to bring some infrastructure changes, many people do not believe they will be sufficient.
Mr Thomas said the town would now have to ‘suck it and see’ with regards to Arla traffic, while Aylesbury Vale District Council leader, Councillor John Cartwright, who would support a bypass if money was available for one, said: “We will need to see the effect of Arla that actually happens when it opens.”
Transport for Bucks says only 10 to 15% of Aylesbury traffic passes through, and officials told the Bucks Herald if they had a blank cheque they would prioritise encouraging people to leave their cars at home and improving public transport over building a bypass.
Mr Hardy, Bucks County Council cabinet member for planning and transport, backed this sentiment and said new developments would bring infrastructure, such as the eastern link road due to be built as part of the creation of 2,450 homes in the Bierton area.
He said: “It is more a question of improving the radial routes. We are committing to providing the right infrastructure that supports the right growth in Buckinghamshire.”
Mr Hardy also expressed delight at the recent announcement that funding will be provided for the East-West rail line, which he said will bring jobs and better connections.
Liberal Democrat district council group leader, Councillor Steven Lambert, does not support the bypass idea, backing better public transport and traffic management instead.
He said: “I don’t necessarily think that a bypass is the right solution.”
However, Southcourt Councillor Michael Beall, Labour, and Quarrendon Councillor Chris Adams, UKIP, both backed the bypass.