Public inquiry will not be held until Government spending review completed

THE public inquiry into the £1.2bn upgrade of the A14 in Huntingdonshire has been postponed, the Government announced today.

It will not be carried out until the Government has completed a full spending review in the autumn in its bid to cut the national deficit.

The inquiry into the planned improvements between Ellington and Fen Ditton had been due to start on July 20 in St Ives, but the future of the scheme will now be decided later in the year.

A letter from Tim Freathy, deputy regional director of the Government office for the East of England, said: "It has been decided that until the Government's spending review has been concluded, the Department for Transport will not be in a position to identify those major infrastructure projects it can support, consistent with the Government's objectives.

"In view of the uncertainty over the availability of funding for this scheme, it has been decided to postpone, for the time being, the holding of the local inquiry.

"We aim to provide you with an indication of the way forward for this scheme later this year once the spending review is complete." Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon told The Hunts Post: "I am concerned to hear the news that the inquiry has been postponed because the road is so important for the economy of the fastest growing region in the country. i will continue to lobby the Government to implement the new scheme, although I know the country is facing difficulties but I will work in Parliament for the project.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "I am surprised and disappointed. We understand that the country is facing a challenge, but the process had been so prologued and subject to so many bureaucratic delays that now we have got to the final hurdle, we should complete the process. It has implications for the whole development of Huntingdonshire and the North Stowe project. So much has been spent on it already that we need to say let's do it. The Secretary of State for Transport announced the funding on April 1, 2003 - but the Highways Agency has failed to deliver it."