Chamber criticised over 'blind acceptance' of Shrewsbury North West Relief Road

Campaigners have criticised business leaders over their "blind acceptance" and support of the £87 million Shrewsbury North West Relief Road.

An artist's impression of the North West Relief Road
An artist's impression of the North West Relief Road

Shrewsbury Business Chamber threw its support behind the plans for the four-mile stretch of road, which would run from the Churncote roundabout to Battlefield, in a statement earlier this week. The group said the road would "bring considerable environmental, commercial and transport benefits for the town and its hinterland".

But now campaigners against the road, Better Transport Shrewsbury, have expressed disappointment over the chamber's view.

Mike Streetly, a spokesman for Better Transport Shrewsbury, said: "We’re extremely disappointed by the recent statement from the Shrewsbury Business Chamber and its blind acceptance of Shropshire Council’s dubious claims for this disastrous road.

"If the Shrewsbury Business Chamber really wanted to protect its members, it would be asking questions about why the council is relying on a business case that is years out of date, traffic models that aren’t fit for purpose, and a road that offers no value for money. Building the North West Road will leave Shropshire liable for 100 per cent of any overspend, which the council already predicts could be as much as £8 million and possibly more."

He added: "The sums simply don’t add up. Shropshire Council says the North West Road will cost £87 million despite being 25 per cent longer than the £90 million Congleton bypass and incorporating a major river crossing over the Severn. We fully expect to see the final price tag spiral. The North West Road has the potential to bankrupt the county and we’re surprised to see business leaders supporting Shropshire Council’s profligate use of public funds.

Current challenges

"The world has changed since the business case was written. If the business chamber was committed to ensuring that Shrewsbury has a bright future, they would be challenging Shropshire Council’s 'business as usual' model of more and more vehicle-based growth.

"Shropshire businesses are already suffering from climate change with the town shut and businesses flooded three times in a year.

"In order to support businesses in the north of Shrewsbury, the council needs to look at what the current challenges are that limit connections to the main M54 growth zone i.e. Harlescott Lane (which will get worse if the road is built) and the Sundorne roundabout on the A49 eastern bypass which is already at capacity. The road is not the solution to those real problems.

"One of the key challenges for all businesses is recruitment of high-quality staff and this is where Shrewsbury shines. People want to live here due to the pleasant environment: if we ruin this with new roads and the associated over development of new houses, we will lose one of our key competitive advantages over other towns in the West Midlands."

The public have until next Tuesday, April 27, to have their say on the plans for the road. To comment, visit https://bit.ly/3tMefLm

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