LABOUR'S decision to scrap plans for M11 north-facing slip roads at Loughton is good news for Epping, says county councillor Dennis Ramshaw.

He feared the scheme, initially approved in August 1995 after a public inquiry, would attract more traffic into the town.

Had the plans gone ahead, southbound motorists could have exited the M11 at Loughton (junction 5) while northbound drivers could get on.

But Labour dropped it from its roads programme because of the strong public opposition saying the scheme would not have fulfilled the original aim of getting long-distance traffic off local roads and reducing congestion.

Mr Ramshaw said: "I've always thought the slip roads would have a severe impact in the Debden and Chigwell area and, I believe, would have increased traffic in Epping.

"I think they would cause more people to go to the motorway, some of whom would travel through the Epping area. Anything that increases the capacity of motorways increases local traffic.

"When the M11 was built it was predicted it would be a bypass for Epping and take traffic away from local roads. In actual fact it has done the opposite."

Loughton Labour Cllr Stephen Murray is delighted the Government had the "common sense and foresight" to axe the scheme.

Chigwell Independent Tory district Cllr John Gilliham said: "We always strongly opposed the scheme and if they had been built when the road was built in the first place we would not have had all this trouble."

He said the main objection was that the slip roads would attract more traffic to nearby roads with many becoming rat-runs.

Planning inspector Brian Evans, in a 74-page report following a 12-day public inquiry in May 1994, said the scheme's benefits marginally outweighed the disadvantages.

He said they would provide a "quicker and more direct" route for local motorists wanting to travel north on the M11 or join the M25.

Steven Norris, Minister of Transport for London and Epping Forest MP at the time of the approval decision, said the axing was "yet one more example of disastrous cuts in the roads programme by the Government which will bring disappointment to communities all over the country".

He added: "They should have been built right from the start. I wonder just how many drivers over the years have found themselves frustrated and lost in Woodford because they couldn't leave the motorway at Loughton.

"I'm sad this highly sensible and carefully drawn up scheme has been thrown out. Epping Forest's communities will suffer as a consequence."

Present Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing said: "I know many people will be disappointed that these slip roads did not go ahead, but there are an equally large number of people who believe such a scheme wouldn't have been good for Loughton and the surrounding area.

"I think this was one of the main reasons why our scheme was one of the ones dropped -- because it did not have overwhelming


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