The A14 is crucial for the economy say business chiefs

FEARS for the economy of Eastern England was expressed by political and business chiefs at the postponement of the public inquiry into the upgrading of the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton.

Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon told The Hunts Post: "I am concerned 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. 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 prolonged 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."

Councillor Ian Bates, leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "This is a great disappointment. While we understand the pressures on public finances, the long overdue upgrading of this road is vital for the future prosperity of our district and the county as a whole.

"This delay could have an impact on a number of our local development schemes, which themselves could bring more jobs and employment opportunities for the benefit of our district and our neighbours.

"Not only is the upgrade needed to improve our prosperity, there is a crucial road safety aspect as well. This section of the A14 has been the scene of so many accidents, tragically a number of them fatalities."

Councillor Bates said representations would be made to the government to continue to stress the importance of the upgrade.