MINISTERS are deliberately excluding Cambridgeshire business leaders from discussions on the future of the A14, they say.

MINISTERS are deliberately excluding Cambridgeshire business leaders from discussions on the future of the A14, they say.

The county's chambers of commerce are urging the Government to reinstate the public inquiry into the proposals that were abandoned last October for the planned £1.2billion upgrade of the road between Ellington and Fen Ditton.

Ministers have said they would welcome private sector involvement in a replacement project but, without a public inquiry, there is no project for investors to become involved in, said John Bridge, the chambers' chief executive.

He is meeting Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly later this week to discuss the situation, but says he has been "specifically excluded" from a meeting on the future of the congestion problem "because they don't want me highlighting that they're not doing anything".

"They have made it quite clear that they are not going to provide money, but there's no scheme to attract private sector money to," he told The Hunts Post. "If the current scheme is completely ditched, whatever they come up with will take 15 to 20 years to materialise.

"The fundamental issue of volume versus capacity will change only with a major road improvement scheme."

Mr Bridge fears the Government's failure to generate an alternative is damaging the national economy, holding up vital major development schemes, such as Northstowe, Bearscroft Farm in Godmanchester and Northbridge in Huntingdon, because of the principle of 'nil detriment' - no scheme can be allowed that causes congestion on the A14 to get worse.

At the same time, the Government is expecting the area to 
lead the country out of recession into recovery.

"I think we've all come to terms with the Government's refusal to invest in this key section of our region's infrastructure, but what I can't believe is that they are continuing to hamper growth by refusing to reinstate the public inquiry and therefore further delaying any sort of progress being made," Mr Bridge said. "Regrettably we don't seem to be getting anywhere."