Following a positive and productive meeting last week, a way forward and preliminary route funding has been agreed for the Farthinghoe Bypass.
On Thursday evening I met with representatives from Northamptonshire County Council, England’s Economic Heartland, and the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership to discuss the urgent need to fund and deliver the bypass for Farthinghoe.
I reiterated the disappointment felt by the whole community that no bid had gone forward for money for the project through the last round of Major Road Network funding. Whilst I understand that the scheme for the Farthinghoe Bypass was not as well developed as those projects that were successful, and there was no funding in place for the detailed design work for the preferred route, I made clear that this should have been communicated to me and to the village much earlier, and stressed that this couldn’t happen again.
Turning to a way forward, Northamptonshire County Council have confirmed that they have secured around £250k from their colleagues in South Northamptonshire District Council for a preliminary route assessment – looking at engineering and environmental issues, as well as traffic and wider economic concerns – and an updated consultation with the community. I am delighted to say that this work starts now, with the preliminary route assessment taking place from now until the end of Q2 next year, with the consultation following immediately after.
This is a huge step forward, and I know that everyone in the community will welcome this positive progress.
I have had a response from the Secretary of State for Transport regarding a bid for money for construction of the bypass through the Local Pinch Point Fund, which you can read here. The Transport Secretary has welcomed our support for the project locally, and has confirmed that the fund could be used to improve matters in Farthinghoe in the way we suggest. He has sent Northamptonshire County Council an Expression of Interest form – the first stage in putting forward a bid – and the County Council has agreed, at the meeting, to submit one for the Farthinghoe Bypass ahead of the deadline of 31st January 2020. Due to the tight timescales for Pinch Point Funds to be utilised - usually by 2022/23 - I am writing to the Transport Secretary to ask whether the Farthinghoe Bypass may be granted dispensation to disburse the funds outside of the normal funding window, and I am meeting with him on Wednesday to discuss this in more detail.
We do need to find ~£1m of funding for design work, environmental surveys, planning applications, etc. once a preferred result has been identified, consulted on, and approved, and this would have to be before we were guaranteed funding through the Pinch Point Fund. This is a top priority for me, and all partners have committed to working proactively to find a solution for this.
I am really pleased that the Farthinghoe Bypass now looks to be moving in the right direction, and that we have secured funds to get the initial work underway. I will, of course, continue to keep the community updated as we progress, and would be happy to hear from anyone with specific questions or comments.