A14 turmoil re-opens opposition debate

I WAS delighted to read (The Hunts Post, February 9) that our MP Jonathan Djanogly was calling for Government Ministers to look again at an alternative way of improving the A14. This is something that Brampton A14 Campaign Group has been advocating since the Highways Agency consultation in March 2007 when we submitted our own alternative multi-modal scheme.

We understand that the Department for Transport (DfT) is currently conducting a study with a view to finding an alternative sustainable solution that meets transport sector carbon budgets. We have heard nothing to date about the progress of this study and would be grateful if Mr Djanogly could pursue this.

I note however that in the same article John Bridge of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce is still calling for the public inquiry into the flawed Highways Agency scheme to be re-instated. As he says: “It has already cost us almost �37million to date.”

This is public money that has been wasted on an outdated road scheme that does not conform to Government transport, sustainable development or climate change policy and is likely to lead to increased traffic congestion, according to the Highways Agency’s own reports.

At an estimated cost of �1.3billion (over �50m a mile), the Secretary of State, Philip Hammond, when announcing withdrawal of the scheme last October, described it as “unaffordable in this or any future funding scenario”.

Presumably Mr Bridge thinks that it is a good idea to continue to throw public money down this particular wishing well. However, I am sure that many residents of Cambridgeshire villages would prefer to see their bus services saved and would rather back the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT)’s ‘Save Our Buses’ campaign (The Hunts Post, same edition) than continue with the aborted A14 public inquiry – particularly as Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing to withdraw funding from all subsidised bus services in the wake of Government spending cuts.

Mr Cohen (Letters, February 9) and Mr Djanogly may be assured that Plan B is already on the table. At the pre-inquiry meeting in May 2010 the Inspector instructed the Highways Agency to develop the road aspects of our alternative scheme, and Network Rail and the Rail Freight Group are exploring the rail elements.

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Broadly, the scheme is based on upgrading existing road (A428-Caxton Gibbet to A1) and rail freight routes (Felixstowe-Nuneaton), A14 traffic management (active traffic management systems and ramp metering) to optimise traffic flow, and reducing the number of junctions and lay-bys to reduce traffic conflict.

Truck-stops should be provided to ensure safe and secure parking for HGVs and minimise parking in A14 villages. Demand-management measures to reduce car use should also be adopted in line with the DfT’s ‘smarter choices’ policy, such as public transport (Save Our Buses), community transport schemes, car clubs, workplace travel plans (including car sharing), plus walking and cycling initiatives, including school travel plans and improved parking facilities for cyclists at rail stations.

All would help reduce carbon emissions and help meet transport sector carbon budgets.

Mr Djanogly will no doubt be pleased to note that a new funding stream is indeed available. Transport Minister Norman Baker recently announced the Local Sustainable Transport Fund – �560 million for the four-year period to 2014/15.

Local transport authorities are invited to apply for funding to support sustainable travel measures, including those that promote walking and cycling, encourage modal shift, manage demands on the network, secure better traffic management, improve road safety and improve access and mobility for local communities.

What are we waiting for? Let’s move quickly to secure the funding needed.


Brampton A14 Campaign Group

Centenary Way