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Liverpool schemes hit by Merseytram axe

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KNOCK-ON EFFECTS of the government's decision to axe Liverpool's Merseytram scheme this week threatened two other major projects in the city.

One is a £500M hospital and the other a £10M bypass. Planning applications for both assume the tram will be built.

A public inquiry was due to begin last week into construction of the £10M link road from the M62 to the city centre. Council officials have since asked for a delay until June to assess the impact of the tram decision on expected traffic levels.

The outcome of the inquiry will determine the future of the hospital, as the route of the road cuts through the proposed site.

At the same time, passenger transport authority Merseytravel is seeking a judicial review of the Department for Transport's decision to axe the light rail scheme.

Barristers have advised Merseytravel it could force the government to reinstate funding for the project or repay money already spent.

'Ministers should be held to account for withdrawing funding unlawfully, and so preventing the Merseytram project from proceeding, ' says a resolution expected to be passed by the passenger transport authority as NCE went to press.

A letter of intent will be sent to the government this week, to which it has seven days to respond. Merseytravel chief executive Neil Scales said a review could be heard as early as February. If successful, work could start in March and finish in 2009.

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