East Lindsey District Council leader Craig Leyland is backing calls for a Horncastle bypass claiming it could deliver a multi-million pound boost to the region’s tourist economy.
There is mounting pressure on the Government to fund a new road with MPs, councillors and highways officials admitting Horncastle’s notorious delays are a major obstacle to attracting more visitors to coastal resorts like Skegness and Ingoldmells – as well as the increasingly popular Lincolnshire Wolds.
The A158 is the main route linking Lincoln with the coast but during the summer, there are often long tailbacks at the Bull Ring junction in Horncastle which highways chiefs say is the third busiest in the entire county.
Coun Leyland has also reminded decision-makers to take delays in and around Wragby into account as well.
Tourism is already worth an estimated £584m to the district economy and Coun Leyland believes that figure could increase dramatically with the better links a bypass would bring.
Coun Leyland said: “The principal of a bypass is very, very good.
“What we’ve got to make sure is its feasibility which is something the county council will be looking at.
“There’s the funding from central Government resources, and we’ve got to understand what local people and businesses think about it.”
“Apart from the financial benefit, there’s the relief it would give, not just to coastal traffic but local and business traffic.”
Coun Leyland revealed the district council had an ambition to double tourism income by 2020.
He admitted: “Just by people willing to invest in tourism, we are on target for that already.
“The potential to bring more visitors in and open up new markets is huge.
“The easier it is to get to a place – the more accessible it is – the more likely it is you are likely to visit .
“Transport links across the county aren’t great.
“We are making the best use of what we have and the infra structure is never going to be perfect because of the nature of the established road network.
“We need to make it as good as it can be, and if putting a bypass around Horncastle does that, then we need to consider it.”
While a bypass would be welcomed by tourism businesses in the Wolds and on the coast, Coun Leyland admitted it was not a forgone conclusion it would win support from people in the Horncastle area.
He added: “I’ve been at meetings where the business community has said; ‘look, this might be the death of the town.’
“I don’t necessarily think that, because if you look at Burgh le Marsh and Louth, they are two towns with a bypass but are thriving because they are making better use of what they’ve got.
“Building a bypass is one thing but its what you do with it (the town) afterwards that is the issue.”
Coun Leyland went on to say it was important other places on the A158 which is notorious for jams – including Wragby and Gunby – were not forgotten.
There are often reports of long delays in Wragby.
However, Coun Leyland admitted it was ‘highly unlikely’ a new road from Lincoln to the coast would be built.