THE public should have a say in whether Cambridgeshire County Council should pay £20-25million towards the upgrade of the A14, according to a UKIP councillor who has called for a referendum.
Paul Bullen, county councillor for St Ives, has tabled a motion for the next full council meeting on Tuesday to have a formal consultation and referendum on the county's contribution to the £1.5billion project.
Cllr Bullen said that the previous Conservative-run council's commitment to the scheme was not binding. CCC has been central in pushing ahead the A14 project, helping to organise a contribution of up to £100m from local authorities and local enterprise partnerships across the eastern region.
But Cllr Bullen is asking "why should we pay twice?"
"The deal that is being cooked up with the Government over the A14 trunk road upgrade leaves county council taxpayers picking up a £25m bill for a national road link that will have tolls, which are paid directly to central government," Cllr Bullen said.
"We won't see a penny of it and it is well documented that motorists avoid toll roads, so it is unlikely to be properly used. I think national Government saw us coming on that one.
"It is the responsibility of Government to pay for upgrades to national trunk routes and not local council taxpayers through city, district and county councils. If the A14 upgrade is partially funded by council taxpayers it will be the thin end of the wedge. It will divert money away from much-needed services and it will have a detrimental effect on the Council Tax precept for many years to come."
Councillor Martin Curtis, leader of the county council, said: "LEAVE SOME ROOM PLEASE"
As part of delivering the upgrade, the Government has asked for a local contribution of £100m over 25 years. The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has said it will pay half and Huntingdonshire District Council has already committed £5m to the scheme.
n Elsewhere in the district East Cambridgeshire District Council has added £1m to the pot but Fenland District Council has joined Cambridge City Council in refusing to contribute.
Fenland was asked for £1m, £40,000 a year for 25 years, and Cambridge was asked for £5m. The rest of the money is likely to come from Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk county councils and other LEPs in the region.