Mayor is given assurances over future of A14 upgrade project

ASSURANCE: Mayor James Palmer, centre, with deputy Cllr Charles Roberts and Highways England chief e

ASSURANCE: Mayor James Palmer, centre, with deputy Cllr Charles Roberts and Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan - Credit: Archant

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer said he has been assured there will be no delays on the £1.5 billion A14 upgrade following the collapse of construction giant Carillion.

He met Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, to discuss concerns about the future of the long-awaited road project after Carillion failed last week.

The firm was one of four partners working on the project to upgrade a 21-mile stretch of the heavily-congested road between Huntingdon and Cambridge.

Following the meeting, Mr Palmer said: “After the concerns that have been raised following the news of Carillion’s liquidation, I was keen to seek assurances that there would be no delays to the A14 upgrade.

“I was informed by Mr O’Sullivan that because Balfour Beatty were in a joint venture with Carillion they would be carrying out all the works and that there would be no delays.”

Mr Palmer said: “I was also keen to ensure that all those who have carried out work on behalf of Carillion are properly looked after. Mr O’Sullivan made an assurance to me that all the individuals in question would be treated fairly.”

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, also felt the upgrade would not be delayed because of Carillion’s collapse and that other partners in the project would take up the slack.

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“I am quite clear in my mind that there is a going to be a significant effort to make sure the A14 is completed as planned,” said Mr Bridge, a long-term supporter of the A14 plan.

Mr Bridge said he felt Highways England’s planning in light of Carillion’s collapse had been “very effective”.

But he felt smaller contractors had been left in the dark by the Government over what would happen to them.

“At the moment they have no idea what is happening,” he said.

Mr Bridge said it did not seen fair that contracts for Carillion work on behalf of the Government would be supported, but not its private deals, penalising some businesses.

He said Carillion being regularly awarded big contracts by the Government had created a false sense of security for Carillion sub-contractors and suppliers.

A Highways England spokesman said: “Our contingency plans ensure the continued safe delivery of any scheme Carillion is involved in on behalf of Highways England.

“Balfour Beatty will continue to deliver the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme as part of a joint venture.”