NORTHWICH’s £45 million ‘levelling-up’ bid to fund a new bridge over the River Weaver at Winnington has been rejected by the government.

The bridge is needed because of a traffic pinch point at the existing single lane swing bridge where a weight restriction could soon be imposted as it can't cope with HGVs.

The government’s failure to back the bridges also puts a regeneration project in jeopardy as transport improvements were thought essential to support development scheme including 1,550 new homes.

Northwich town councillor Lee Siddall was disappointed with the decision and said the town feels second best after more than £13m was provided to Ellesmere Port for new cycle links, pedestrian walkways and upgrades to the market hall.

He said: "I’m incredibly disappointed the long overdue, much-needed government infrastructure investment for a new Winnington corridor, including a new bridge, has been refused by the government.

"This plan would have alleviated the extra demands that have been placed on our roads dure to the additional homes that have been and are being built in the area.

"I'm disappointed residents have had to fight so hard and long for something that has been so obviously needed for such a long time and was hugely overlooked when granting planning permission within Winnington urban development.

"I welcome the funding Ellesmere Port has now been provided with however the people of Northwich again are feeling second best."

Northwich MP Mike Amesbury slammed the decision, dubbing the government’s levelling-up policy ‘an empty slogan’.

Northwich Guardian: Artist impression of the completed bridge project, which will now not go ahead (Cheshire West and Chester Council)Artist impression of the completed bridge project, which will now not go ahead (Cheshire West and Chester Council) (Image: Cheshire West and Chester Council)

Mr Amesbury said: “This decision is a real blow for Northwich. It means the gridlock we see at peak times will only get worse and there could serious economic consequences if HGVs are banned from using the aging swing bridge.

“This Government is all spin and no substance. Their version of levelling-up is just an empty slogan that doesn’t amount to a row of beans.

“There will be a great deal of disappointment at Cheshire West and Chester Council which lodged an excellent bid that had the full backing of local Labour councillors and the neighbouring Tory MP.”

The levelling up project would have created a green travel route along Winnington Lane corridor with the grade II-listed swing bridge converted for walkers and cyclists only, in addition to road and junction improvements.

The council, which designed the bridges, agreed to stump up £3m from its own coffers if the £45m levelling up bid was successful, as well as almost £3m that was expected in private sector contributions.

The Weaver Vale MP added: “The outcome casts severe doubt on plans for 1,550 homes at the former Winnington Works site as it would not be sustainable. The message from myself, the community and local councillors will be ‘no bridge, no development’.”

Cllr Siddall added: "The government has let everyone down who has signed numerous petitions for a new bridge or helped to raise awareness of the traffic issues brought on by excessive housebuilding without adequate infrastructure.

"The government seem continuing to squeeze schools, key workers, and hardworking families as much as they can to fix the horrendous financial decisions they have made in the mini-budget and it appears the people of Northwich are paying the price.

"I don't know how we can now accept another 1,500 houses to be built on Winnington works without this vital price of infrastructure."