A COUNCIL contractor told a packed public meeting that traffic on Whitecross Road in Hereford is likely to go up following the construction of a bypass.

There was a public meeting in Breinton on Saturday about the bypass, which will cut through the area if the current proposals are approved.

Council officers, cabinet member for infrastructure Philip Price, MP for North Herefordshire Bill Wiggin and council contractor Balfour Beatty Living Places attended.

Stephen Williams, who lives in Whitecross Road in Hereford, attended the meeting.

He said: "I am against the bypass on environmental grounds but at least I thought it would reduce the traffic going past my front door, which is horrendous.

"I put the question to the representative from Balfour Beatty - 'Taking the main proposals together - that is the bypass, the 6,500 new houses, and economic growth, what is the effect on the volume of traffic [on Whitecross Road].'

"And he said, 'It goes up.'"

Mr Williams said due to the number of new homes proposed at Three Elms, the traffic into the city will more than outweigh the reduction in traffic using the bypass.

He said the consultation documents clearly imply that the bypass will reduce traffic and improve air quality, but he said the answer from Balfour Beatty suggests it will make it worse.

Breinton Parish Council facilitated the event which included information boards and documentation supporting the current consultation on the Hereford Transport Package, which includes the bypass proposals.

Peter Hands from Breinton said he was concerned that Balfour Beatty is running the consultation when they are the council's main contractors.

While Phil Chapman, who went to the meeting, said: "Coun Price was unable to explain where the 6,000 jobs this road promised would be based. He referred to the Rotherwas Enterprise Zone that was expanding rapidly, though still at 50 per cent capacity. The road would support the Rotherwas Enterprise Zone, creating new jobs and 6,500 new homes, expanding Hereford by 30 per cent. Coun Price said he is convinced 'Hereford is going to grow or die.'

"Two local employers of over 400 staff challenged Coun Price’s assertion that Rotherwas businesses supported a bypass to the west of Hereford. They explained that they supplied Birmingham, the Midlands and areas to the east of Hereford and so they would not be using the new bypass as it went the wrong way."

A Herefordshire Council spokesman said: “The Hereford Bypass is a proposed new road to the west of the city. We are consulting on seven potential routes all of which include a new river crossing. The bypass would support the delivery of 6,500 homes and 6,000 jobs, the new university and expansion of the Hereford Enterprise Zone at Rotherwas. The Bypass will also enable the delivery of a package of measures in the city to increase walking, cycling and bus use for short distance journeys and more attractive and healthier public spaces.

"The provision of a bypass as part of the Hereford Transport Package is expected to improve journey times. Detailed transport surveys have been undertaken over the past two years and this data will be used to model in detail the likely future traffic movements and journey times across and within the city. This work will take account of the feedback and recommendations arising from the current consultation and will form part of the business case for the package which will be published later this year.

"Balfour Beatty Living Places and WSP consulting are currently commissioned to provide technical and professional services to the Council to develop the design and business case for the Hereford Transport Package. This is expected to include the development of a planning application for the bypass once a preferred route is chosen by the Council. At this early stage in the development of the project, the approach to securing a contractor to construct the scheme has not been determined. Any procurement process would follow the appropriate legislation and ensure an open and fair process is followed to appoint a contractor and ensure value for money.”