The need for safety improvements on the M56 has again been raised with the Government.
In June campaigning MP Justin Madders (Lab, Ellesmere Port and Neston) handed in a petition to Whitehall seeking action to improve safety on the blighted motorway under the ‘Fix the M56’ flag.
“Residents and businesses in this area cannot afford to wait a decade for action to be taken,” fumed the MP as he handed in the almost 400 name petition to the Department for Transport.
It called for safety improvements to be made to the motorway between junctions 12 and 14.
The MP argues the stretch between Chester and Runcorn, part of which passes through his constituency, has experienced a ‘substantial increase’ in the number of collisions in recent years, especially between the two junctions.
Many of these have resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.
Mr Madders points out there have been several recent incidents which have led to the complete or partial closure of the key transport artery leaving the surrounding road network unable to cope with the sheer volume of traffic.
This has brought misery to thousands of local residents, businesses and commuters who are regularly affected by the problems on the M56.
He explained the Department for Transport had recently announced that it would be upgrading other sections of the M56 to become ‘smart motorway’.
Yet after a number of questions to ministers and officials, Mr Madders said he was ‘very concerned’ to find no action would be taken to improve the section between junctions 12 and 14 until 2021 at the earliest.
He argues: “Given the level of concern locally about this area and the clear evidence that the situation has worsened in recent years, minsters need to intervene urgently and take action now.”
Colleague Labour MP Chris Matheson (City of Chester), who says he never misses an opportunity to make the case for safety improvements on the motorway, has now managed to make a lengthy case for spending £100,000 on police and Highways England safety cameras to make the road safe for drivers rather than spending £30m on controversial plans for London’s Garden Bridge.
In a House of Commons late night debate last week on the bridge, said to be a ‘vanity project’, he said in a speech: “Will the minister tell the House in his response whether he thinks that £30m spent on a vanity project garden bridge in London is better expenditure than £100,000 on motorway safety cameras in Cheshire?”
He added: “Is the garden bridge receiving this level of public money simply because it is in London rather than the north west of England?”
After the minister failed to deal with the issue, Mr Matheson said following the debate: “How typical that the Conservatives will happily splash the cash in London but deny us a fraction of that amount in Chester.
“This is one of those issues that I simply will not give up on. The Government needs to realise that this is a stretch of road that needs their attention. I will keep telling them that, at every opportunity and by every means necessary, until they listen.”