HUNTINGDONSHIRE councillors are overwhelmingly impatient for work on the £1.2billion A14 improvement scheme between Ellington in west Hunts and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge, to start. But several parish councils made clear at last week s meeting of

HUNTINGDONSHIRE councillors are overwhelmingly impatient for work on the £1.2billion A14 improvement scheme between Ellington in west Hunts and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge, to start.

But several parish councils made clear at last week's meeting of the district council what are likely to be their grounds for objection at the public inquiry that is expected to be held next year.

HDC cabinet members Councillors Doug Dew, who holds the planning portfolio, and Andrew Hansard, who looks after economic development, described the scheme as crucial to the future of Huntingdon's prosperity.

What was also vitally important, Cllr Dew added, was the separation of local traffic from strategic journeys on the Trans-European highway. The road was already a major stumbling block to one large employer's ambitions to move its operations to the district, he said.

Some parish councils, including Brampton and Buckden, fear villagers will be unable to access Huntingdon because of congestion in Brampton Road, Huntingdon, and the Hinchingbrooke Park area after the present viaduct is demolished.

Brampton is also concerned about pollution when the A1 is widened to three lanes past the village, adjacent to a new dual-two-lane stretch of the A14, and Buckden believes the A1 will become dangerously overloaded.

But Brampton district and county councillor Peter Downes accepts that demolition of the viaduct is inevitable under the Highways Agency's proposals, and that the benefits to other areas, including Stukeley Meadows, Huntingdon and Godmanchester, outweigh the expected disadvantages to Brampton.

As expected, the parish councils in Fenstanton, Godmanchester, Hemingford Grey and St Ives, were broadly in favour of the proposals, while Hilton, which will be about a mile to the leeward at its closest, complained that the new road would impose an intolerable burden on a "tranquil village of 440 houses".

Kimbolton Parish Council added an obscure, seemingly unrelated, complaint about an increase in the level of traffic along the village high street since the opening of the Higham Ferrars bypass in Northamptonshire.

District councillors for west Huntingdonshire did, however, complain that £24million junction improvements in the area proposed half a dozen years ago had since been ditched and were not included in the current plans.

Alconbury was concerned about the additional burden of heavy lorries making for the airfield after the viaduct is demolished.

One notable absentee from the meeting was Offords Parish Council, but that should not be taken as the villages' having withdrawn their objections to the scheme, according to the villages' A14 action group. It was more likely because the council has not met formally since the Highways Agency's detailed proposals were published, said the group's Nita Tinn afterwards. The Offords will object on ground of noise, light and visual intrusion.