Castle Street upgrade: Hull MPs call for commitment after transport minister cancels meetings
A SENIOR Government minister has twice cancelled meetings this month to discuss the long-awaited £150m upgrade of Hull's Castle Street.
Hull East MP Karl Turner revealed the meetings, due to have taken place in London, had been cancelled at the "last minute" by Transport Minister Stephen Hammond.
In May, the minister's predecessor, Mike Penning, said money was available for the scheme, designed to ease congestion on Hull's busiest road.
It was thought the scheme would be approved soon after the start of the Government's next spending review in 2015.
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Now, Mr Turner and the city's other MPs, Diana Johnson and Alan Johnson, are seeking fresh assurances from Mr Hammond that Castle Street remains on the radar.
Mr Turner said: "I do not believe there was anything sinister behind the minister's decision to cancel both our meetings.
"It was simply a case that his diary was full and other matters had to take priority.
"However, ministers change and policies change sometimes, too.
"Our meetings with Mike Penning were very constructive and I felt he was committed to making the scheme happen.
"We are seeking the same type of assurance from Mr Hammond."
Mr Turner said the upgrade, which has been talked about for years, was vital to the city's long- term prosperity.
He said: "Several transport companies in the east of Hull have spoken to me about Castle Street. We need to deal with it. We cannot afford not to."
Dr Ian Kelly, chief executive of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said a meeting between the city's MPs, business representatives and Mr Hammond would be "useful".
He said: "The proposed scheme to upgrade Castle Street is of vital importance, strategically, to Hull and the north of England.
"With the Siemens development, it is vital that this happens soon."
Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson added: "This Government has said the case has been made and that it will be a priority in the next spending round.We are determined to hold them to that pledge."
Earlier this year, Mr Hammond's predecessor confirmed funding is available for development work on plans to improve the congested city centre street.
The work is expected to include detailed designs and preparation, including compulsory purchase orders and public inquiries.
A spokesman for Mr Hammond said: "The meeting with Mr Turner and others will definitely happen. Mr Hammond is keen to discuss Castle Street with them."