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Cameron Visit 'Missed Opportunity' To Reopen A591 Before Easter - Farron

January 28, 2016 11:51 AM

A591Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has criticised the "derisory" offer made by David Cameron today during his visit to South Lakeland.

The Prime Minister today announced £2m of new funding announced to repair flood-damaged infrastructure across the Lake District National Park, as well as a £1m PR campaign announced to encourage British families to spend their Easter holidays in the North.

However, local MP Tim Farron has criticised this as being "woefully inadequate" to deal with the scale of the county's problems. Tim highlighted in particular the absence of any commitment to reopen the A591 before the end of May. If the road remains closed until May, it is expected to cost the local economy around £100 million.

Tim pointed out that when the Dawlish railway line in the South-West flooded in 2014, a 300-strong Network Rail team rebuilt the track at a cost of £35m in just over 50 days. By contrast, 53 days have already passed here in Cumbria since the A591 was first destroyed.

Tim said: "When I heard that the Prime Minister was coming, I was genuinely hopeful that this would bring good news for the area. However, instead of bringing his cheque book, he seems only to have remembered his small change.

"Of course the extra funding for infrastructure and tourism promotion is welcome. But it is woefully inadequate given the scale of the problems we are facing. There is a £460million shortfall in the funding required to repair flood-damaged roads and bridges across Cumbria. Cameron's £2m is nothing but a token gesture, which will leave local residents, businesses and councils to pick up the lion's share of the bill.

"If Cameron really wanted to help promote tourism in the area then he would have committed proper amounts of funding to help get the A591 reopened before Easter. Instead, he wants to chase cheap headlines by giving token sums of money.

"Cameron has been to Grasmere and has seen the crippling impact of the A591 closure on local businesses; it is incredibly disappointing that he has not decided to provide the funds needed to get the road reopened. Various ministers and now even the Prime Minister have visited the A591, but very little real help has been delivered - local people feel very let down.

"The government's quick reaction to the flood damage on the Dawlish railway line a few years ago shows that when it wants to, it can get things done. But it appears that Cumbria is simply not a priority for the government."