Mass transport project in Gloucestershire in doubt after funding was rejected

Plans to develop mass transport links, potentially involving new bus links or the use of light rail and trams in the Gloucestershire region, have been refused funding.

Leaders at Gloucestershire County Council rejected calls to spend £850,000 to develop a scheme, according to a BBC report.

Stroud District Council leader Doina Cornell said if they agreed to the sum they might “completely empty the pot.”

Officers said developing mass transit would help tackle the climate emergency declared by local councils in 2019.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said a pre-feasibility study had identified broad corridors in central Gloucestershire where officers believed there was enough demand to introduce mass transit.

The corridors run between Gloucester, Cheltenham and Bishops Cleeve, with the potential to extend it to Ashchurch.

The aim was to vastly improve connectivity, travel times, accessibility, frequency and affordability and increase access to employment, education and other services.

A high-level cost analysis estimates the cost of constructing the mass transit link is between £180m to £440m for a bus-type mass transit system and between £1.1bn to £2.2 bn for a light rail mass transit system.

To support development, officers requested £850,000 from the strategic economic development fund (SEDF) which supports economic investment in the county.

However, the Gloucestershire economic growth joint committee rejected the request.

Gloucester City Council leader Richard Cook said he thought the mass transit scheme was a great idea but questioned the use of taking SEDF funding away from other economic growth opportunities.

“I look at the highways projects being under budget and that’s why we are being asked to fund this from SEDF”, he added.

Cheltenham Borough Council leader Rowena Hay said the idea of mass transit was phenomenal but she could not agree to the request as “my head doesn’t get around the fact that we can’t spend what we haven’t got. It’s the wrong pot.”

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