WINNING £54 million funding to transform the county’s road infrastructure was “50 years in the making”.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed the government’s backing for Shrewsbury’s North West Relief Road on Thursday.

Now Councillor Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s portfolio member for transport and highways, has paid tribute to the work that has gone in to the project.

He said: “It has been an incredible amount of work and we are absolutely delighted it has paid off.

“I first came to work on the scheme two years ago but it has been going on for half a century.

“I was excited to be given the portfolio and new it was something I wanted to get my teeth into and now I am delighted.

“It has taken a lot of very hard work from a lot of people from officers to MPs and I pay tribute to them all.

“Daniel Kawczynksi, the Shrewsbury MP, has worked tirelessly to lobby ministers to get us to the top of the list and he has managed to do it.

“The government receives dozens of applications from across the country and they are all worthy schemes.

“You put your business case in and they all make sense. It is then a case of lobbying the ministers for support and what the government wants to hear is what will these roads do for the area.

“What this government wants to hear is that they will create jobs and this certainly will be the case here.

“We have plans for loads of houses and schemes like this will lead to opportunities for major employers to come to Shropshire.

“I also want to create jobs in the county on the building site of the project.”

Councillor Davenport said a crucial part of negotiations with the government was an hour-long one-on-one meeting he managed to secure with minister of the state for transport, Jesse Norman.

“To have a one-on-one meeting with a minister in my position is incredibly rare, but North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson offered me the use of his Westminster office for an afternoon and Jesse said he would give me half an hour of his time.

“We ended up talking for an hour and I did my best to sell him the North West Relief Road. I told him the benefits it would bring to Shrewsbury and the wider Shropshire area, how it would benefit motorists and businesses and then attract jobs and future business.

“I think this was a crucial moment.”

Councillor Davenport said he will now appoint a member of staff to work on the project full time, with a joint planning application for the relief road and the Oxon Link Road due to go to the council in the next few months.

Work could begin on the scheme in 2022 and the road could be open by 2024.

“I think this will open up a lot of opportunities for Shropshire,” he added.