Will it be Open in time?
Let's get it open for The Open!
That’s the call from Fylde’s tourism leader after county highways officials said it could be several months yet before they are in a position to submit the bid for funding to kick-start work on the much-needed M55 Link Road.
Big time international golf returns to Fylde next year when the Royal Lytham and St Annes course hosts The Ricoh Women’s British Open.
And Coun Cheryl Little, chairman of Fylde Council’s tourism and leisure committee, said: “It is only 18 months away and it is crucial the road is open by then.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies, who has been heavily involved in talks over the building of the vital link from Ansdell to Whitehills - commonly known as the moss road – has already said that the time for meetings and discussions on is over - and work should begin in earnest.
But with several parties involved in the negotiations, including Highways England and home builders Kensington Developments, highways authority Lancashire County Council has said it could be some time yet before the work gets under way.
Coun Little says, however, that it is vital the link is in place before the Women’s Open, potentially attracting thousands of golf fans as well as competitors and media from across the world, comes to town in the summer of 2018.
“The return of that competition to Fylde offers a massive boost to the local economy and it is crucial we have that road by then,” she said.
“Without it, the slightest problem or increase in traffic on the only other roads into St Annes mean gridlock and we can’t allow that to continue to be the case for much longer.
“My daughter travels to Manchester every day and some days it takes her longer to get out to the M55 than to travel to Manchester - it’s just not good enough and we need action on this road as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Menzies recently met with representatives of Highways England for an update on roads schemes on the Fylde coast and took the opportunity to further impress on the Agency how critical the road is to keeping the Fylde coast moving.
Mr Menzies said: “All the principal parties in this saga need to realise that the time for discussion is over.
“Weeks seem to turn to months without signatures and this is no longer acceptable.
“We need to get the details in order now so that the funding bodies such as Highways England take this project seriously and we get work started.
“The time for talking is over. The time for procrastination is over.
“It is time to get signatures on paper and shovels in the ground on this vital road scheme.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “The M55 link road is a large and complex project and we’re still in discussions with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Highways England about its funding and design.
“It’s important that we get the details right and it is likely to be several months before we’re able to submit the bid for funding.”