MAJOR improvements to the A14 in Huntingdonshire could still get Ministerial backing, even though a £1.3billion scheme was abandoned two weeks ago as part of the comprehensive spending review cuts.

MAJOR improvements to the A14 in Huntingdonshire could still get Ministerial backing, even though a £1.3billion scheme was abandoned two weeks ago as part of the comprehensive spending review cuts.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly spoke to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond on Monday, who said Ministers' minds remained open to improvements that would be less costly to the |Government.

"They [Transport Ministers] are making no bones about it: the sticking point was the price tag," Mr Djanogly told The Hunts Post.

"They made it clear that they would be open to constructive discussions about the future of the road, and we shall be investigating all possibilities."

As well as continuing to write to Ministers to press the case for relieving congestion on the only A-road in the national Strategic Road Network, the MP has arranged a private meeting in Cambridge at the end of November.

It is expected to be attended by all the county's MPs, except probably Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert, who represents Cambridge and has been a consistent critic of the proposals, and members of Cambridgeshire County Council and the county's district councils.

Cambridgeshire's five Tory MPs have asked Roads Minister Mike Penning to say whether any Government cash would be made available if an acceptable alternative scheme could be identified. They also want to know when a study ordered by the Minister into alternative solutions will start and finish, what its remit will be, and what consultations are planned.

"Given that 10 years and considerable resources and funding have already been invested in the previous scheme, can you assure us that the new study will be a swift and definitive process?" they wrote.

"As you can appreciate, the decision to withdraw the scheme has resulted in

significant strength of feeling locally," the MPs warned.

Alternatives on the table at the Cambridge meeting could include building the new road piecemeal or some form of tolling that also protected villages from rat-running vehicles.

A piecemeal approach could see the proposed new southern bypass of Huntingdon and Godmanchester built before the rest of the 22 miles between Ellington in west Huntingdonshire and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge, is widened from Fen Drayton eastwards.

Greenfield road construction is significantly less expensive and less disruptive than widening, although the need for a viaduct crossing the East Coast main railway line and the River Great Ouse, planned for near Offord in the shelved scheme, would add to the cost.