CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue fighting a £212 million bypass after it moved a step closer.

Warrington Borough Council’s cabinet gave the go-ahead for the next phase of the Western Link on Monday, which paves the way for the start of the pre-construction stage, including the preparation of a final business case.

The 3.2km highway would connect the A56 Chester Road to A57 Sankey Way.

Transport bosses insist it will reduce congestion and unlock key development land but campaigners remain apprehensive over the benefits of the project.

During Monday’s meeting, Cllr Hans Mundry, portfolio holder for transportation and highways, took a swipe at the Liberal Democrats, who ran the council between 2006 and 2011.

He claims it is a ‘well accepted fact’ that there is a need for a new high-level crossing, which the Western Link would deliver.

“If you look at the Liberal Democrat record in the four years they were in control in Warrington, they did not deliver one meaningful highways structure,” he said.

“Since then, Labour have been in control and have delivered over £100 million in transport improvements for Warrington.

“The contrast of saying something and doing it is quite clear for everyone to see.”

But Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, hit back after the Town Hall meeting came to a close.

He said: “It is typical political grandstanding by Hans and total rubbish.

“How he imagines Omega turned into a logistics site, rather than a business park, without highways work I can’t imagine.

“Also, we were in control for five years not four.”

Canaries on Tour campaigners Helen Gurnani and Tanya Baker – who are campaigning to protect sites across the borough from development – continue to oppose the scheme.

The pair dress as canaries while campaigning due to their association with the warning of danger, or pollution

Mrs Gurnani said: “We’re still not happy about the loss of green space engendered by this road and the lack of evidence of real benefits to the people, as opposed to convenience for Peel Holdings’ ‘Port Warrington’ ambitions and will continue to oppose it.”

Campaign group A Better Plan for Warrington hailed the canaries for their ‘tireless’ efforts ‘against the people who don’t care about Warrington’, adding the pair have ‘done us all proud’.

The final business case needs to secure full approval from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Gaining full approval would allow the bypass to be constructed – unlocking £142.5 million in Government funding, with the remaining £70.2 million planned to come from the council.

However, Cllr Mundry confirmed, as land becomes available, the authority will be looking to secure funds from developers so ‘is not anticipating’ to have to fork out all of its share.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden added: “We are still four years away from potentially starting on site with construction, there are a lot of hurdles to still get over, not least of which developing the final business case for the DfT.”