A GOVERNMENT minister has said any decision on a bypass for Hereford must be made by the local people.

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said he knew Herefordshire well enough not to "stumble into that hot potato".

Herefordshire Council voted to drop plans for a bypass to the west of the city, and the southern link road, earlier this year, saying it would instead look at an eastern river crossing.

He said local road projects like the Hereford bypass, as important as they are to locals, should be left to the local people.

"I've known Herefordshire long enough not to stumble into that hot potato," he said when asked if Hereford should have a bypass.

"But look, that really is a decision for the local community.

"If local people want to have a bypass and can decide on what the appropriate route is, then as a friend of Herefordshire in Government I would do whatever I can to help get that across the line.

"It really is a matter for the local council to decide.

But Mr Jenrick, who has a house near Leominster, said if there was broad support for it, together with a preferred route, people in Government who cared about Herefordshire would be "the first people to argue for it" and to try and secure funding.

Speaking during a visit to the revamped Shell Store in Rotherwas on Friday, he added: "This is a long-standing issue, it does divide opinion, and I think it really is for the local council and the community to come to a consensus on it – if one can be found."