LABOUR group chiefs believe halting the controversial £212 million Western Link would be ‘completely foolish’ – despite concerns over it costing the party votes.

The bypass could open in 2025 after the Government approved £142.5 million funding towards it, although it will need to pass the planning processes.

However, the council has admitted another bridge could be built over the Manchester Ship Canal, in addition to the Western Link, to improve connectivity between south Warrington and the town centre.

Officers believe the controversial bypass alone will not be able to solve the issues facing the borough.

But campaigners and politicians continue to raise concerns over the scheme, which will connect the A56 Chester Road with the A57 Sankey Way in Great Sankey.

It aims to tackle congestion in the town and unlock key development land.

In an e-mail sent to the Labour group, which has been seen by the Warrington Guardian, Cllr Amanda King (LAB – Great Sankey South) highlighted the ‘ever-growing concerns’ about the route.

She said: “I think everyone agrees a bridge crossing of our town is essential, however, I personally still have reservations about the results the Western Link will actually bring.

“With a toll crossing still in place for the Mersey Gateway which will push traffic towards west Warrington, we have seen the traffic increases already and the physical changes the project will make to Morley Common, Sankey Bridges and Sankey Way, compounded by the disruption this size of project brings to the communities, will cause west Warrington to be at risk from all our competition.

“It is a vote loser for sure and I would like the opportunity to appeal to you and discuss this, we are bold and brave enough to understand when we can change things and to see a way forward that meets with residents’ needs and also improves our town.”

Cllr King told the group the Tories are ‘pushing money’ towards the project to try and ‘secure’ their parliamentary candidate, with the Liberal Democrats ‘pushing a negative narrative’, and Labour ‘stuck in the middle’.

She added: “The Slutchers Lane road change project may well have a positive impact on the traffic in the town centre and maybe we can pause, look at the positive results of this and think about what to do next.

“We need to return a Labour council and sometimes that means a rethink of how we are engaging residents.”

Cllr King also called for an ‘open and honest discussion’ about the road’s impact on communities, before asking if it is still the ‘right thing to do’.

In an e-mail in response, Labour group secretary Cllr Peter Carey (LAB – Fairfield and Howley) told Cllr King her e-mail was discussed at the group’s executive meeting last week.

He also reminded her the scheme has been group and council policy since 2016 – and has been the subject of considerable internal and public consultation over the past three years.

The former Mayor of Warrington went onto say she could have ‘raised concerns for discussion’ at any time during this period.

Cllr Carey added: “A considerable amount of money has already been committed in preparation for the scheme and funding has now been allocated for the scheme to proceed.

“To halt the scheme now would make the council and the Labour administration look completely foolish.

“The next scheduled group meeting is on September 12 and you can if you wish raise your concerns there.”

The all-out elections in Warrington take place in May next year.