A14 bid ‘weakened’ by lack of Cambridge City Council contribution

A14 signs STOCK

A14 signs STOCK - Credit: Archant

THE A14 upgrade bid has been “weakened” by Cambridge City Council’s decision not to contribute £5million towards the scheme, it was claimed this week.

Local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) from across the region – from Northamptonshire to Essex – have been asked to contribute up to £150m between them to the £1.5billion scheme.

But Tim Bick, the Liberal Democrat leader of the council, has announced that the city would not be making a contribution – a sum that works out to be £200,000 a year over the 25 years which councils have been given to make payments.

Cllr Bick says that Cambridge would not benefit from the A14 upgrade – despite thousands of its workers and businesses using the road each day.

Councillor Catherine Smart, deputy leader of Cambridge City Council, echoed her colleague’s concerns that the city would not get anything back from the scheme while developments at Alconbury and Northstowe would be unlocked by the A14 upgrade.

Cllr Smart added the council wanted the money to relieve congestion in the city centre when the road is upgraded.

John Bridge, Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce CEO, told The Hunts Post that the A14 bid had been weakened by the council’s decision.

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“If you are going to ask the Government for money there has to be unanimity from all the local areas in terms of commitment, showing they all believe the scheme to be of such vital importance,” Mr Bridge said. “Cambridge City Council doesn’t seem to understand the importance of it for businesses and individuals.

“When Vince Cable was here, only a week or so ago, he understood how critical the A14 upgrade was to the Cambridge sub-region. I can’t see how they can say that it doesn’t benefit the city – the A14 upgrade is vital for the working area of Cambridge.

“The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, which represents the businesses in Cambridgeshire, had put the A14 upgrade as its top priority and has pledged £50m. I don’t see how Cambridge City Council can be part of the LEP if it doesn’t believe in the scheme. It should resign from the group.”

Mr Bridge added: “The upgrade is quite critical for Huntingdonshire, for the development of Huntingdon and the Enterprise Zone and the housing that goes with it. Even Northamptonshire County Council sees the importance of the upgrade because they see it as an international, national and local road.”

Cambridgeshire County Council is looking to put £20m in to the A14 pot while Huntingdonshire District Council is believed to have been asked to contribute between £5m-£8m.

Officials from the region’s councils and LEPs met for a funding summit in February and pledged their support, with the proviso that future infrastructure plans in East Anglia are also part-funded by other counties.