Exclusive: Minister boosts hopes for Horncastle bypass

Hopes for a long-awaited Horncastle by-pass have received a major boost after the Government's Transport Minister said today (Thursday) he was prepared to hold talks with the various parties involved.
MP for Horncastle and Louth Victoria Atkins.MP for Horncastle and Louth Victoria Atkins.
MP for Horncastle and Louth Victoria Atkins.

The town’s MP Victoria Atkins raised the issue of a by-pass in a House of Commons debate about transport issues.

She intimated residents and tourists were fed up with long delays experienced through Horncastle during the summer and said the problem was damaging tourism.

Ms Atkins asked Transport Minister John Hayes whether he would be prepared to meet her to discuss the issue of a by-pass.

Mr Hayes, who is MP for South Holland and The Deepings, offered to hold a ‘round the table meeting’ with all interested parties.

He said: “My Honourable friend is a doughty and articulate campaigner for her constituents’ interests.

“She will know that all councils of our great country are dear to my heart but none more so than my home county of Lincolnshire.

“I am familiar with this part of the county. I do understand the pressure on the roads there and I will meet with local councillors.

“Indeed, I want to go further because that alone is not good enough.

“I want to hold a round table meeting with all concerned parties in my department and ask my officials.”

During the debate, Ms Atkins praised Mr Hayes and sparked laughter when she said it was because she wanted him to help with the by-pass.

She said road users had to cope with the delays all through the summer.

She added: “My constituents, tourists and I had to had to wait up to 45 minutes to pass through the traffic lights in the Bull Ring in Horncastle where the very busy A153 crosses the even busier A158.

“The single carriageway road simply cannot cope with the volume of traffic travelling between the city of Lincoln and the coast.

“Will the minster meet with me to discuss the ways in which we can get rid of these bottlenecks, to help local residents and businesses and encourage even more tourism to the wonderful Lincolnshire coast?”

It remains to be seen what impact Ms Atkins’ intervention in the on-going by-pass saga has.

Campaigners have renewed calls for a new road in recent weeks and the News has featured several articles.

Only this week, Lincolnshire County Council and East Lindsey District Council said they supported the idea for a by-pass in principle.

However, the two authorities admitted that one of the key issues was funding with suggestions the new road could cost at last £100m.

ELDC claimed the county council had suggested an additional 2,000 new homes could be allocated to Horncastle to help pay for a by-pass with the majority of funding coming from the Government.