Hereford’s controversial western bypass is now back on the table after last week’s local election saw big gains for the two parties supporting the plan.

Both the Conservatives, who gained nine seats, and the Liberal Democrats, who gained six, and who together accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the votes cast in the county last Thursday, had campaigned on restarting the bypass project, cancelled under the previous Independent/Green administration.

For the LibDems, Terry James, re-elected as councillor for Kington and now by his local party as leader, said they remained “totally in favour of” the bypass.


With no party gaining an outright majority, the LibDems are likely to be key to whatever administration emerges to run the country following negotiations between the parties, which are ongoing.

But the bypass idea has been attacked by Professor of sustainable transport John Whitelegg, who lost out to the Conservatives’ former leader Roger Phillips in Arrow ward.

“It is astonishing that any political party would support this,” he said. “The cost will now be several times bigger than it was the last time anyone produced a number.”

Neighbouring Shropshire Council currently faces a huge bill for the planned four-mile Shrewsbury north west relief road, the cost of which has risen from £81 million to £100 million, Professor Whitelegg pointed out.

“Paying for the difference – it’s in the contract – will bankrupt the council,” he said.


On the other hand, the Welsh Government scrapped the planned M4 relief road south of Newport, based on advice from Professor Whitelegg and others.

“Alternatives to road building are much more effective, and cheaper, in reducing congestion, carbon, and air pollution, and benefitting the local economy,” he said.

Newly elected Conservative councillor for Bircher ward Dan Hurcomb said Professor Whitelegg’s comments “demonstrate how out of touch the Green party are with the people of Herefordshire, who just voted overwhelmingly for parties in favour of a western bypass”.

The Conservatives and LibDems should now “take the time to update the comprehensive plans which were abandoned by the previous administration at great expense”, he said.

Meanwhile Coun James claimed the previous administration’s radical Masterplan for Hereford “is now dead as it stands”, that it too would cost “enormous” sums, and that some its proposals such as building on the city’s car parks were “pie in the sky”.

Coun Hurcomb added on this: “I’m sure in due course we will want to review a number of the unpopular policies put forward by the previous administration, including the city masterplan.”