THE Transport Secretary today said he was determined to deliver a £50 million Eastern Relief Road for Shipley, cutting congestion and speeding connections for business.

Chris Grayling told a group of local businesspeople that schemes to improve the secondary road network were his focus, with the Shipley bypass a priority.

Announcing a feasibility study into the road, he said: “I intend to do this.

“But first we have to work out what this is.

“I’ve been looking carefully at the area’s growth corridors and given how bad the congestion is, we want to bring this forward.

“We need to get the traffic jams out of Shipley. It’s quite clear to me this corridor needs improvement.”

Referring to Shipley MP Phillip Davies, he said: “I have been persuaded something needs to be done.”

The Minister, who said he had personal experience of battling through the congestion in Shipley, said money would be set aside in the early 2020s for schemes on the secondary road network “to break congestion points”.

He said the investigation work would look at the alignment for the scheme.

He said he was “fed up” with the narrative always being about Leeds and Manchester and was looking at what else made a difference, getting a sense of what matters to outlying areas.

He backed modernisation of Bradford Interchange station before the arrival of a Northern Powerhouse station, said he was keen on reinstating the Skipton-Colne railway line for freight and passenger traffic and held talks on the Queensbury Tunnel cycle route.

He said he was proud of the Government’s vast investment programme which will see every train in the Northern Franchise replaced - including the scrapping of Pacer trains from the autumn - and the Transpennine rail upgrade which he called “the biggest reconstruction of a railway line apart from the West Coast Mainline in recent times”.

“I’m very supportive of a new railway station at the airport. I’m actually disappointed that Leeds appears not to have planned to build the station from the £180m we have given them. I’m going to be working to make sure this station is built. I believe it is necessary, sooner rather than later. I think Leeds City Council should be making that a priority.”

The Minister said the Government cannot do any more over the next five years without causing too much disruption to services across the North through closures and diversions.

The meeting was hosted by flight control components producers Produmax, based on the Sapper Jordan Rossi Park in Baildon.

Mr Grayling asked the gathering for their concerns about local transport links and the need for a smoother flow of traffic through Shipley and Bradford was top of their concerns.

An extension of the M65 from Colne to Keighley and beyond was raised and he said it was an issue he would look at.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council Leader, said: “Obviously we welcome any investment in Shipley.

“As a Shipley councillor who lives in the area I experience congestion on a daily basis like everyone else along these very roads. Traffic backs up at a number of junctions along the route.

“So this money is a welcome start for us to develop a proposition which we can then take to government for the necessary funding to solve the issue.”

In response to Bradford Council’s meeting with Chris Grayling, during which the future of Queensbury Tunnel was raised, Norah McWilliam, leader of the Queensbury Tunnel Society, said: “Queensbury Tunnel is a valuable asset with the potential to deliver social and economic benefits for generations to come. We have always believed that any decision on its future must be made on the basis of robust evidence. Highways England should have provided that evidence but, unfortunately, it has failed to do so.

“What we need therefore is time to gather it for ourselves. This goes beyond the Council’s recent investigations into the tunnel’s condition to include allied issues such as landowner agreements, future flood management options and connecting routes.

“We would welcome the Secretary of State’s intervention to ensure stakeholders are given the opportunity to reach a fully informed decision without the threat of being overtaken by Highways England’s questionable and premature abandonment scheme.”

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said: “I have been a long standing supporter of the fantastic work done by the Queensbury Tunnel Society and I will continue to campaign alongside them. A refurbished tunnel and cycleway has the potential to be a huge asset to the district. I wrote to the Transport Secretary in May asking him to intervene on this issue and I look forward to receiving a positive response.”