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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Shropshire Council confirms Shrewsbury relief road funding position after minister's comments

The council was pressed on the issue at its full meeting earlier today, and has also responded to Shropshire Star requests for clarity over the current position.

The projected cost of the road, which was finally granted full planning permission earlier this month, is understood to have risen significantly since the original estimate of £81m.

The government awarded £54m towards those costs in 2019.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said in a BBC interview last year that the government would fully fund the road – but it now appears that confirmation of 'full-funding' will only come after the council submits the 'full business case' (FBC) for the project to the government.

The FBC will set out the latest full estimate of costs for the project, which have not been made public by the council.

Asked how much funding is currently guaranteed for the road, a spokesman for the council said: "The cost of the North West Relief Road has been estimated at £80.1m. In March 2019, the Department for Transport awarded £54m towards the construction of the North West Relief Road, and the Marches LEP awarded £4m towards the costs of the Oxon Link road section.

"In October 2023, the secretary of state for transport, Mark Harper MP, in an interview with the BBC, said the government would fund 100 per cent of the North West Relief Road: “Because of inflation, local authorities have struggled to meet their funding so we’ve committed to paying the whole cost, bringing forward when the project can be delivered."

Asked if it has any confirmation other than the minister's comments on TV, the council said: "Although we have not received any official communication regarding promise of funding, we are in regular contact with the DfT and have been given no reason to believe that Government support for the NWRR will be nothing other than that announced by the Secretary of State on TV, fully funded."

Questioned on if it believes the road is fully funded, the council added: "We are still awaiting further detailed information around the offer of full funding for the NWRR, but at this time we see as appropriate to reflect public statements made by the Secretary of State on the matter."

Councillor Dan Morris, the council's cabinet member responsible for highways addressed the funding issue at the full council meeting.

He said revealing the cost of the project would set a bar for firms bidding to take on the work.

But, Green Party Councillor, Julian Dean, said councillors were being 'wilfully kept in the dark'.

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