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Locals fund their own bypass

BRITAIN'S FIRST privately funded toll bypass will be discussed at a meeting next month between Cumbria County Council and specialist build and finance consortium Road Link.

The proposed £7.5M bypass of Kirkby Stephen already has planning permission, the design is virtually finished and, until last year, was top of the council's proposed road schemes. But it was abandoned after Labour took control of the council.

Now a bypass campaign group is attempting to revive the project as a privately financed toll road. 'The council reneged on its promise for purely political reasons, so it is up to us to see the road built,' said campaign co-ordinator Tony Metcalfe.

He is proposing that the council adopts the 3.2km bypass as a public highway while allowing his group to charge a £4.50 toll for trucks and 10p for cars. 'If the council places weight and width restrictions on the high street, lorries would be virtually forced onto the bypass instead of the alternative 35km diversion,' said Metcalfe.

Legislation for such a scheme exists through the 1991 New Roads & Street Works Act, though Road Link general manager Gerry Cawley stressed that detailed financial analysis was needed before he could comment on the scheme's viability.

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