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Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore
By Sam Lister, Parliamentary Correspondent
THE battle for a new link road connecting the M4 with the Avon ring road will be taken to the House of Commons tomorrow.
Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore has secured a debate in Parliament’s Westminster Hall to pile pressure on ministers to back the proposals.
The road would connect the motorway to the Rosary roundabout next to the Sainsbury‘s supermarket in Emersons Green, creating a new Junction 18a between the M32 junction at Hambrook and the A46 junction at Tormarton.
The project would cost at least £41.9 million but supporters claim it would generate £274 million for the local economy by improving access.
Transport Minister Norman Baker
Earlier this year Transport Minister Norman Baker said there was not enough cash in government coffers to pay for the scheme in the next five years but during the debate he will be told the case is now more urgent than ever.
The Coalition government ruled that all new projects must have an economic benefit before funding could be allocated in the wake of the recession.
Mr Skidmore will argue the link road would do just that by improving access to Bristol‘s Science Park, which is set to create 6,000 new jobs in the area.
And large-scale residential developments will mean an extra 3,000 houses, putting even more strain on local infrastructure.
Cars travelling to the M4 from the ring road now have to use the Hambrook junction with the M32, which is congested at rush hour and many other times of the day, or take the single-carriageway A420 to the A46 at Cold Ashton.
The link road plan has been on the cards since 1985 and it was backed by both Labour and the Tories on South Gloucestershire Council during the 1990s. But it was abandoned in favour of improving cycle and public transport provision by the Liberal Democrats in 2000.
Businesses in the area continued to push for the link, but despite the Tories taking control of the council in 2007 and Labour being in government until last year, the scheme has yet to make it off the drawing board.
Conservative MP Mr Skidmore said: “I’ve been leading the fight for the link road for local people in Emersons Green and the surrounding area. The need for an M4 link to the ring road is more pressing now than ever before. With the future development of nearly 3,000 homes in Emersons Green East and the establishment of the Science Park, which will bring 6,000 jobs to the area, we must have the infrastructure in place to make the Science Park a world-class facility and help the local area cope.
“A link road to the motorway would help to secure investment. I realise that at over the next few years there isn’t the funding available for the project, but I am campaigning to ensure that ministers will look to the future and not rule anything out.”
The debate will be held tomorrow afternoon.