HIGHWAYS bosses will not let up in the fight to solve Warrington’s chronic congestion chaos.

As the Labour-run council sets out its vision for growth, fears over traffic in the town continue to intensify – with claims that infrastructure in the area is already at breaking point.

Thousands of new motorists are expected to be on the town’s streets over the next two decades, if the local plan is adopted.

But can it solve its long-standing problem in years to come?

During last week’s leader’s forum, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden was pressed on the highways issues facing the borough.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Russ Bowden

He told residents there is a ‘concerted effort’ to deal with the infrastructure problems.

“What I don’t think we really got sorted with the New Town development was the infrastructure,” he said.

“The New Town development corporation basically did half the job, they provided some employment areas and housing but they didn’t get the job finished.

“Traffic is pretty much widespread across Warrington.

“When there is a problem on the motorway network, traffic comes through Warrington.

“I am not promising we can do absolutely everything to fix all the problems.

“But the Western Link is key to tackling congestion and air quality.”

Warrington Guardian:

Concerns continue to be raised over traffic in the town

The council’s draft fourth local transport plan, LTP4, will be going out for consultation in April, alongside the draft local plan.

It aims to transform how people move around the borough.

Transport chiefs say key elements of the document are to make the town centre ‘less car-dominated’ and to reduce congestion.

A council spokesman added: “Our aim is to reduce the proportion of commuter trips made by car in Warrington, from the current 75 per cent to 60 per cent, over the next 20 years.

“The plan also aims to improve the ‘last mile’ of journeys into the town centre.

“This would be achieved through investment in high-quality transport infrastructure that makes walking, cycling and public transport the obvious way to get to, from and through Warrington town centre.”

But Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the borough’s Liberal Democrats, has raised concerns – although he admits there is no ‘simple solution’.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Bob Barr

He said: “School children writing essays to inform plans for Warrington New Town in the late 1960s spoke of the town’s chronic congestion problems.

“In the 50 years since, matters have only got worse.

“The impact on health and the local economy is getting ever greater.

“Warrington has an expert team of transport officers doing their best by modifying the roads, exploring public transport improvements and coaxing residents out of their cars.

“However, this requires the political leadership to reduce car dependence.

“Building in the centre helps but building new car-based suburbs and urban extensions isn’t the right answer.”

Warrington Conservatives say they have ‘little confidence’ in the council leadership delivering the much-needed solutions.

Deputy chairman Andy Carter added: “Many of Warrington’s congestion problems do go back some years but could have been foreseen.

Warrington Guardian:

Andy Carter

“What has compounded these historical failures is successive decisions taken by Labour councils to build more homes, while failing to get to grips with the roads needed to accommodate the cars that invariably come with people moving into new developments, in fact many of the decisions made over the last few years have simply added to our woes.

“If they can’t deliver the necessary transport solutions, the council must stop, revisit the growth plans and come up with a scheme which is deliverable and won’t include inevitable further traffic chaos on our roads.”

Furthermore, Steph Davies, leader of Warrington and Halton Green Party, has put forward a range of proposals for consideration.

She said: “Warrington desperately needs to reduce traffic congestion – we have worse air pollution in parts than Liverpool and Manchester.

Warrington Guardian:

Steph Davies

“There is a complete disconnect between the proposed local plan which is heavy on building new houses, industrial units and infrastructure, whereas the transport plan is looking, albeit in a fairly superficial way, at reducing congestion. The two plans do not align.

“Warrington and Halton Green Party would be pushing for measures such as much-improved cycling and walking routes, park and ride schemes along key routes, diesel-free zones and cheaper bus fares to reverse the downward trend in usage.”