Council leaders in Milton Keynes stop short of opposing controversial new road

Oxford Cambridge Expressway
Oxford Cambridge Expressway

A council’s leaders are “wavering” in their support for a controversial new road that would link Oxford to Cambridge through Milton Keynes.

The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway has previously been strongly supported by Milton Keynes Council as a road that could help the borough’s economic growth.

Earlier this year, the council changed its policy to supporting the road but only if the East West Rail route is electrified AND there are environmental protection measures.

Council officials have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Highways Agency to give themselves access to up to date information on the route.

On Tuesday, Milton Keynes Council’s leader, Cllr Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton) said: “We are not absolutely going to oppose it outright at the moment until we understand what the final proposals of the scheme are.

“But we have been very clear as an administration and as a council that we would not support the road being started before the electrified East West Rail line opened and we also need to be shown environmental mitigation.”

At the meeting of the council’s cabinet, he added: “I will write to the secretary of state to outline the council’s wavering support on it if that is helpful.”

Cllr Marland was responding to pressure from Cllr David Hopkins (Cons, Danesborough & Walton), who fears the new road could pass through parts of Wavendon, Bow Brickhill, and Woburn Sands, and “cut those communities in half”.

He said: “The new road would fly in the face of this council’s recent resolution which recognised the climate emergency we all agreed that we face, and the climate emergency goals we have set ourselves.”

Cllr Hopkins wants plans for a new road replaced by electrification of the railways, including the planned East West line.

“Now is the perfect time to lobby government to stop this Expressway scheme given the review it is undertaking on the HS2 project, another expensive infrastructure scheme now in doubt.”