MPs keep Copdock Mill upgrade at top of government agenda
PUBLISHED: 16:32 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:33 02 January 2020
Suffolk's seven Conservative MPs are to keep up the pressure on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to carry out improvements to the A14 in the county when they return to Westminster next week.
They signed an open letter to Mr Shapps just before Christmas asking for the government to put pressure on Highways England to improve junctions in the county.
Top of their list is rebuilding the Copdock Mill interchange between the A14 and A12 to the south of Ipswich - but they are also pressing the case to improve other junctions around the town and near Bury St Edmunds.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, whose constituency includes Copdock, organised the letter which was sent to Mr Shapps shortly before Christmas.
He said: "We haven't had a response yet, but we hadn't expected that! But this is an important issue to keep on the political agenda as we prepared to return to Westminster next week.
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"It certainly helps when all the MPs come together like this to press the case."
Mr Cartlidge said that the MPs were aware that the government was likely to pay extra attention to the needs of the midlands and the north of England after the Conservatives' significantly increased their support in those areas in the General Election.
"There is an extra emphasis on the midlands and the north as you'd expect because there are more Conservative MPs contacting the government to raise issues in their constituencies but the A14 is important for the whole country.
"It is also important for the north and midlands because it is the main freight route from their cities to the country's major container port - and they don't want their lorries held up in traffic jams through Suffolk."
The improvements to the A14 are the focus of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce's "No more Delays" campaign which has been working with the MPs.
Highways England is due to announce which major schemes are to be included in its Road Investment Strategy(RIS2) covering the years 2020-25 within the next few weeks.
And developing the A14 could also feature in cabinet discussions Prime Minister Boris Johnson was told about the need for the improvements during a visit to Bury St Edmunds in October and said he would raise the issue with Mr Shapps.