Tory MEP heads to Fenland to promise support for funding new Whittlesey by pass and lobbying for Wisbech Port expansion
PUBLISHED: 15:31 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:59 13 February 2013
CONSERVATIVE MEP Geoffrey Van Orden promised to support Fenland District Council in its bid get European funding for a new Whittlesey by-pass, after seeing traffic problems in the town on Tuesday.
The MEP visited the King’s Dyke crossing in the middle of the afternoon with councillors who “could not believe” the amount of traffic using the A605 .
Mr Van Orden, who spent the day investigating problems of Fenland’s infrastructure, said: “The bypass is an aspiration, and the council is now going to work together with other authorities to put in a bid.
“I am a lobbyist and campaigner for good causes, to help the local economic situation. I have heard the local issues and will see if I can do anything to support local needs.”
Mr Van Orden had been accompanied by district council leader, Councillor Alan Melton; along with deputy leader Councillor Chris Seaton, who has a role overseeing Wisbech Port and the Nene waterfront.
Councillors told Mr Van Orden they would also be pressing for European funding for further development of Wisbech Port.
In regard to the port, Cllr Melton told the MEP: “We would welcome your help to get some European funding.
“We will be putting together a business plan. We can demonstrate a good track record, on how well European money has already been used in Fenland .
“We will look to you to push this funding, and tell me what door to knock on.”
Mr Van Orden met with members of Whittlesey Town Council, and Whittlesey members of Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to take a look at the traffic problems in Whittlesey.
At the Boathouse Business Centre in Wisbech, he also dropped in at the offices of TSR Construction and met director Simon Bull.
Cllr Melton said: “We could not believe the amount of traffic on the road at 2pm, it was continual. We want to make a bid with the county council and Peterborough City Council for a bypass and seek possible European funding.”
Campaigners last week launched a petition demanding a solution to the traffic chaos that ensues when the railway gates are closed.
Cllr Melton added: “Whittlesey is the only market town that is not bypassed. We need a bridge over the railway as part of the by-pass scheme, a southern route is preferred.”
Cllr Melton said the council also wants to attract funding for improving road access to the A14.
Mr Van Orden’s assistant, Councillor Tom Hunt from East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Geoffrey will do all he can to secure some funding for Fenland. It is very difficult to get funding, but with the problems Fenland has in terms of social deprivation, it is more likely to qualify.
“Geoffrey will not promise anything, but will fight to get as much funding as he can.”
Mr Van Orden said Prime Minister David Cameron had made “great steps” in changing the UK’s relationship with the European Union over the past three weeks.
“Last week, for the first time in 56 years the EU budget has been significantly reduced,” he said.
“Other countries recognise what we say is right, there is a lot of waste and needless expense.”