Tory candidate for mayor pledges to sort out ‘delays’ over the Kings Dyke crossing, Whittlesey - a week after county council puts £16m project out to tender!

Cllr James Palmer (left) at Whittlesey rail station: he's promised that if he becomes mayor under de

Cllr James Palmer (left) at Whittlesey rail station: he's promised that if he becomes mayor under devolution to resolve Kings Dyke crossing delays. - Credit: Archant

A pledge by Tory candidate for mayor James Palmer to sort out “delays caused by the present system” was made a week after Cambridgeshire County Council put the £16m Kings Dyke bridge, Whittlesey, out to tender.

Most recent update from Cambridgeshire County Council last month - it showed progress then on Kings

Most recent update from Cambridgeshire County Council last month - it showed progress then on Kings Dyke - Credit: Archant

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council, said tonight: “The tender for King’s Dyke was sent out as planned in early April with a response deadline of mid June.”

Earlier this week Cllr Palmer, on a visit to Whittlesey, had promised that “if elected I will make sure it is completed as promised”.

The East Cambs Council leader, who has stepped down from the county council, had outlined what he called his vision for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that was “the desire for wealth and prosperity to be more evenly distributed across the county,” he said.

“This will only happen if the north of the county gets the transport investment it needs. That means a train station for Wisbech, a solution to the King’s Dyke crossing, and significant upgrades at Whittlesey train station.

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“If elected mayor next month, I will do everything I can to ensure that all these objectives are delivered.”

The scheme was first promised in February 2013 by the then county council leader Nick Clarke with a view to it opening in 2016.

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However despite funding being secured it has been hampered by delays over land acquisition and recently compulsory purchase orders have been muted as a possible resolution.

At the very earliest the county council says completion is unlikely until December 2018 – the most recent report said if legal issues over land occur it could be put back to the end of 2019.

NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay has recently intervened over Kings Dyke calling on Fenland District Council to take legal advice with a view to axing £800,000 promised in 2014 to help pay for upgrading the A14.

The NE Cambs MP believes it would fire a warning shot across the bows of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for allegedly snubbing or delaying investment in Fenland.

The controversial proposal was steered through by the then leader Alan Melton after Fenland Council was told it wasn’t expected to contribute to the new bridge at Kings Dyke, Whittlesey.

But Mr Barclay is fuming with the LEP over a mountain of issues ranging from conflicts of interest to Fenland allegedly being the poor relation of funding decisions.

He wants council officials to look at whether the £800,000 agreed towards the cost of the A14 – to be paid from 2020 in instalments- is legally binding “and if not whether it would be appropriate or counter productive to cancel this payment.

“Councillors supported this allocation on the basis that the LEP said it would help accelerate the deliver of Kings Dyke cross. Yet three years later just £160,000 out of the £8 million has been spent by the LEP.”

The MP said: “This is part of a pattern of funding for Fenland being delayed, suggesting a lack of urgency from the LEP.”

Meanwhile Cllr Palmer says that “despite only taking 7 minutes to get to Peterborough by train and 35 minutes to Cambridge, due to the infrequency of trains and the dilapidated nature of the train station, few commute from Whittlesey rail station.

“Instead more often than not, relying on the inadequate road network.”

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