The inspector’s report following the recent public inquiry is not expected to be received until the middle of December and its recommendations will need to be considered carefully before the Secretary of State can announce the decisions. A further decision on funding will be taken after that.
May I urge my right hon. Friend to make a decision as soon as possible after the inspector’s report has been received? I remind him of the project’s importance for Cheshire and Merseyside, as it will ease congestion, improve public transport and create more than 4,000 jobs. It will also create hundreds of much-needed construction jobs during its construction phase.
I acknowledge the role that my hon. Friend has played as an advocate for the Mersey gateway bridge. I have heard him ask questions of the Prime Minister and raise the matter in debate, and I have also heard the representations made by Halton borough council. I commend both him and the council for all the hard work that they have done.
My hon. Friend has heard from me the time scales in respect of when we expect to receive the public inspector’s report. He will be aware of the scheme’s complexities, but I assure him that we have taken on board the points that he has made and the sense of urgency that he has expressed this morning.