The question of how Pendle can be better linked with West and North Yorkshire has provoked argument for more than 30 years.
The M65 itself was a very controversial project, with decades of argument before various sections were opened during the 1980s.
I know Pendle’s Conservative MP at the time, John Lee, took a lot of flak, but he was right to back the motorway’s construction, which has undoubtedly benefited the local economy.
What was clear, however, was that if the extension of the M65 through Colne’s South Valley couldn’t proceed, another solution such as the A56 Colne bypass would have to be built.
The last section of the M65 was opened in 1997, but with the election of a Labour Government the same year, transport policy shifted away from road building.
The decision left Pendle as a “cul-de-sac” and the residents of Colne to suffer from horrendous traffic congestion and poor air quality.
Since the change of Government in 2010, attempts to revive the bypass scheme have been made but have proved controversial. In 2011, Lancashire County Council proposals for a £100,000 feasibility study into a bypass were slammed in the press by a Liberal Democrat councillor who was reported as saying it was a “complete waste of money” and “a scheme like this was abandoned years ago and will never reappear.”
Thankfully the nine-month long study was given the green light last year, with the county council encouraged by the government’s proposals to devolve major schemes funding to local transport bodies.
The results of this study have highlighted the need for a Colne bypass and are incorporated into the East Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan, which is subject to public consultation.
It is now up to the public to have their say and I would encourage everyone to do so.