MP Steve Barclay reveals combined authority has agreed already to foot King's Dyke crossing overspend and has cleared 'the final hurdle'
PUBLISHED: 15:55 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 29 October 2018
MP Steve Barclay said today that the extra cash needed to begin work on the King's Dyke level crossing project at Whittlesey is in the bag,
“A £16 million vote of confidence in Whittlesey as Kings Dyke clears final hurdle,” the MP for NE Cambs posted to social media.
“Motorists who have frequently been delayed at the Kings Dyke level crossing will join me today in welcoming the news that the £16 million of funding needed to complete the scheme has been secured from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.”
The MP added: “This long sought after transport improvement has been a key priority of mine and so it is great that it has cleared this final stage.
“It reflects a real team effort with Whittlesey Councillors, Councillor Steve Count as leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and Mayor James Palmer.
“I cannot wait for the bridge to be in place as we need it as soon as possible.”
Technically it will be the combined authority board who on Wednesday will vote through the extra money but Mr Barclay has clearly been told the councils that make up the combined authority have agreed to foot the bill.
Rising costs - including vastly increased sums needed to buy the land needed - will be outlined to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
The authority will now vote in favour of upping original £13.6 million pledged to £16.4million.
The board will also be asked to agree the apportionment of 40/60 as a split of any under/over spend against the budget with Cambridgeshire County Council.
The combined authority will meet in Peterborough on Wednesday and will need two thirds of the constituent councils’ members to vote in favour of the proposal.
Mr Barclay’s statement suggests that party leaders have met in privately and agreed to sanction the extra spending.
Chris Twigg, director of transport, said that the scheme “continues to deliver exceptional value for money” and that it could still be completed by 2020 if the funding is agreed.
“This project has had a long gestation period that has, in some respects, missed opportunities to fund it in a more comprehensive manner,” he said.
And because of the increased costs at such a late stage “there is little opportunity to redeem the position in a structured manner”.
If the combined authority does agree to the extra money being spent it will come from their £74 million allocation from the transforming cities fund. Early estimates for the replacement crossing of £13.6 million rose three years ago to £16.9 million but the final projected cost is now £30 million.
One reason why costs have escalated is buying up the land needed which the county council originally thought would be £500,000.
Mr Twigg said the land value has since risen to £3.9 million after it was “identified” as having commercial value and not agricultural land as originally thought.
One hundred trains typically use the level crossing between 7am and 7pm and 50 during the night and delays of up to 23 minutes each hour can be experienced, says Mr Twigg.
“The delays have a significant impact on local businesses and commuters,” he says. “Addressing these problems is therefore vital for the economy.”