Wednesday, 19 December 2012

TRAC project cancelled by Cornwall Council

This afternoon I got the very disappointing news that the TRAC project - for a multi-use trail between Launceston and Egloskerry - is not going ahead. Together with my colleagues and local MP Dan Rogerson, I have put out the following press release:

Councillors and MP slam Cornwall Council over TRAC failure

Launceston councillors and North Cornwall's MP have slammed as incompetent Cornwall Council for dropping the promised multi--use TRAC trail from the town to Egloskerry.

"Cornwall Council was given more than a million pounds to provide the trail," said Cllr Adam Paynter, Liberal Democrat councillor for Launceston North. "All local councillors supported the idea as it would attract visitors and enable local people to enjoy our wonderful countryside. We are bitterly disappointed this project has now been dropped."

"More than half a million pounds will have to be handed back to the government and there will be little or nothing to show for all the money already spent. The only possible trail will be as far as the scrapyard - and much of that will be on-road."

Cllr Alex Folkes, Liberal Democrat councillor for Launceston Central, added:

"While we have supported this project from the off, we warned the council they were not making the expected progress. At every stage successive cabinet members assured us everything would be fine. Now it is clear the council have let the people of Launceston down through their incompetence. Both Julian German and Steve Double - the cabinet members responsible - should be ashamed."

"The original project plan was a partnership between the council and Launceston Steam Railway. But the council lost the support of the railway and of many local residents when they failed to guarantee to keep the way clear for a possible future railway extension. Cornwall Council didn't listen to local people and failed to understand what was important to them."

Cllr Sasha Gillard-Loft, Liberal Democrat councillor for Launceston South, said:

"This is such sad news. Despite being surrounded by open country, the people of Launceston have little access to walking, riding or cycling routes which TRAC would have made available. This is a huge blow to local business people who could see the project's possibilities. It was expected to bring more than 10,000 extra visitors to Launceston each year."

Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, added:

"I have backed the TRAC project from the start and am as disappointed as anyone else that the council has failed to make it happen. They are now talking about starting a new project using European funding. Just like all the other local Liberal Democrats, I would support such a bid. But we have had these promises before and I think there will need to be change at the top before the council is capable of delivering what Launceston should have had."
There is still a possibility that a short section to the East of the town might go ahead. This would only be as far as the roundabout at the end of the industrial estate but would have the added benefit of providing a new pedestrian link to the Ridgegrove Estate. The deadline for a decision on this section is the end of January and I am very much hoping that it can be salvaged.

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