North Devon MP welcomes National Roads Fund on same day North Devon Link Road is discussed in Parliament.

Up to 50 per cent of the North Devon Link Road between Bideford and South Molton could see the introduction of overtaking lanes under Devon County Council proposals. Picture: Tony GussinUp to 50 per cent of the North Devon Link Road between Bideford and South Molton could see the introduction of overtaking lanes under Devon County Council proposals. Picture: Tony Gussin

North Devon’s MP says a new multi-billion pound Government fund for roads has increased the likelihood of improvements to the North Devon Link Road.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling unveiled the National Roads Fund (NRF) for English councils, today (Wednesday).

Devon County Council launched a public consultation in June for a £250million package of improvements between South Molton and Bideford, ahead of a bid to the Large Local Majors Fund later this year.

But a bid could now be made to the NRF in addition to the Local Majors Fund, giving the region two pots of money to draw funds from.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones is backing calls for a better North Devon Link Road.North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones is backing calls for a better North Devon Link Road.

Mr Heaton-Jones told the Gazette the new fund ‘makes it far more likely’ improvements will be delivered ‘following years of inaction’.

He added: “The new fund announced today is additional money, ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty, which the Government is using to kick-start a number of highways projects.

“The particular significance for North Devon is that this money will be targeted specifically at roads which are not funded nationally by Highways England.

“This move means there is yet another pot of money from which we can bid to get the improvements we need to the Link Road.

“The plans currently under consultation, giving us more lanes in either direction between South Molton and Barnstaple, strike the right balance between cost, time and environmental issues.”

On the same day the NRF was announced, Mr Heaton-Jones was talking about the Link Road in a Westminster Hall debate on road infrastructure.

Speaking in the debate, the re-elected North Devon MP said he would be ‘knocking on the door’ of the Road Minister to get extra funding, and that the Link Road was ‘not fit for purpose’ in its current state.

He added: “We need real investment in the North Devon Link Road because it currently hampers economic investment in our area, which has so much to offer as far as a growing economy is concerned.

“We have a plan. We are, to use the awful phrase, shovel ready. We now need the money. I am not the first and I am sure I will not be the last to say to this Minister – ‘Please look at this scheme, because you will get so much bang for your buck if you invest in it’.”