Road delay leaves growers withering

Malcolm Barron (front) with fellow campaigners (left to right) John Mee, Jim Kay and Dave Rydings in 2008

Malcolm Barron (front) with fellow campaigners (left to right) John Mee, Jim Kay and Dave Rydings in 2008

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Growers in the salad bowl of England fear further delays in building a new road could affect their blooming businesses.

The Green Lane Link near Tarleton, first campaigned for 15 years ago, has now been put off until at least 2019/20 due to funding cuts.

And County Hall leaders were warned yesterday they could be “killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”

County Councillor Malcolm Barron, who has championed the cause of farmers and villagers in the Tarleton, Hesketh Bank and Banks area, demanded a rethink and told the authority’s Cabinet: “I’m shocked and appalled. This project was first submitted for approval back in 1999 and conditions have changed since then. Most of my growers have at least doubled, if not trebled, in size.

“This area is the number one provider of salads in the country and employs hundreds of people. Supermarkets want my producers to produce even more and my residents are sick of HGVs thundering through their villages. West Lancs always seems to be last in the queue for funding. Could it be that other less successful areas of the county are getting priority?”

The £2m project to extend Green Lane to the Southport New Road would rid nearby country lanes and villages of heavy wagons. But council chiefs say they can’t build the link until they have the money.

Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of the ruling Labour group at County Hall, said a 50 per cent cut in Government funding for such projects meant it had to be postponed for another five years.

“I think the Green Lane Link will eventually go ahead, but we do have to wait for funding to be available.”

Coun John Fillis, highways and transport spokesman, added: “It’s an expensive road and money is tight. It’s a time of austerity and if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there. But it is still on the books.”