The £22m was money wasted by the previous Conservative administration. They spent it drawing up plans for a bypass that would be financially ruinous, environmentally disastrous and totally ineffective in fixing the congestion problems in Hereford.
When the coalition came to power in 2019 it became obvious that the Conservatives didn’t have the necessary legal agreements in place, nor the funding.
We all want less congestion. And the evidence - thoroughly reviewed in 2019-20 and published in a detailed Hereford Transport Strategy Review report which was agreed by full council in January 2021 - shows that this can be achieved far more cheaply, quickly and effectively through methods other than building a bypass.
Only 7% of the traffic in Hereford is passing through the city trying to get from one side out to the other (HTSR p23). The vast majority of traffic, 93%, is trying to get around within the city. So what we need to do is make it easier for people to get around the city in other ways. Building a bypass would cost nearly £200 million (HTSR p55) and would simply enable thousands more car-dependent homes to be built, clogging up the city’s roads still more.
Anyone who moves around in Hereford will notice that the vast majority of cars have only one person in them. We are far below the national average in terms of the proportion of journeys in the city made by public transport or active travel (HTSR p22) - and yet our city is compact and relatively flat. We need to invest in improving public transport and making it easier to walk and cycle. This will give everyone more choices for how to get around the city - and will free up road space for people who need to use vehicles such as people with mobility problems, and businesses.
The coalition is investing in these sensible, practical, quicker and cheaper solutions to congestion, including improving pavements and cycle paths, expanding Beryl bikes, improving buses, building a public transport hub, supporting the forthcoming free electric hopper bus, setting up car clubs.
We’re also pushing forward with building an Eastern bridge to relieve congestion over the river and create a more resilient road network.
These will help residents and visitors to get around the city much more easily, leaving the roadspace freed up for those that really need to use their cars to get around, like blue badge holders and businesses.