Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A14 Announcement Welcomed - Now We Want Action

Councils have welcomed news that plans have been scrapped by Government to impose a toll on the A14 to help pay for the road’s improvement.

Government has said the decision will not delay the 2016 start and Councils will continue to work with the Department for Transport to make sure this vital project does not slip.

Organisations across Cambridgeshire came together to press the Government to put the scheme back on the agenda after it had previously been dropped for being too expensive.

But the partnership, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, argued the improved A14 would reduce accidents and support growth in the County which is good for the local and UK economy.

The new improvements were to be paid for by the Government, a local contribution from authorities along the length of the road and through tolling.

Today, Tuesday, December 4, Government has announced they are dropping the tolling portion of the funding package and making up the shortfall. It has also said work will start in 2016.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: “This is very good news. This vital scheme had been dropped and it was not until we and our partners put pressure on Government that it was put back on the agenda and is now moving forward. We have always been clear we did not accept the principle of tolling but were told by Government this was the only way it would be funded. We with our partners have argued against this and it is good to see Government has listened. We now need these improvements to start on the ground and stop the regular accidents and traffic jams that plague this route which is vital to the local and UK economy.”

Councillor Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "We have always been very clear that a major upgrade is needed and have worked hard with our partners to deliver the best deal for our residents. We never supported tolling to deliver the upgrade and the decision to scrap it shows we were correct to work with the Government and press them on behalf of our taxpayers. Being at the table has made the Government listen and now need to make sure the promised action in 2016 happens."

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: “I am delighted that the proposal to make the A14 a toll road has been scrapped. It is right that the road should be financed by the Government, and not by the motorist, and we have worked hard to lobby Ministers on this issue. This decision will ensure that the road will do what it is intended to do – to take traffic away from the local roads throughout our district. This is welcome news. We will now be working with local partners to positively ensure that we can all make an appropriate contribution to the scheme, and will continue to campaign for the project to commence as soon as possible.”

Grahame Nix, Chief Executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The news that Government has committed to upgrading the A14 without tolling is welcome news for our area and the rest of the East. We have always said that upgrading the road is our number one infrastructure priority, and to receive the commitment that the road will be delivered without tolling is very welcome news. We now look forward to seeing the plans continue to move forward and work commencing on this much-needed upgrade.”