Suffolk business steps up calls to end delays on A14 across the heart of county
PUBLISHED: 11:41 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:41 01 September 2017
The campaign to get hundreds of millions of pounds invested in Suffolk's busiest road is to step up a gear later this month.
The “No More A14 Delays in Suffolk” campaign is to meet officials from Highways England and the Department for Transport on September 15 to push the case for improvements to seven junctions on the road in the county.
That is a reduction from the 12 junctions that were highlighted when the campaign was launched in early 2016 – but the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce believes it can make a stronger case for the work on these junctions.
Four of the junctions are around Ipswich, including the Copdock Mill roundabout with the A12 south which officials agree is the most serious bottleneck on the route.
There are calls for this to be turned into a full grade-separated junction, allowing traffic to travel east, west, south, or into the heart of Ipswich without having to stop at a roundabout.
Work to rebuild this junction would cost considerably more than £100m and would cause considerable disruption for many months while engineers were working there – but Suffolk County Council cabinet member for transport James Finch said it was vital for the future of Suffolk.
He said: “That is a very large project, but as I have said to ministers before Suffolk is a net contributor to the Treasury – it is one of the most important contributors in the country.
“This is payback time for us. If the Treasury wants us to continue to be prosperous and to continue to make a net contribution then the Department for Transport has to be prepared to invest in major projects like this.”
Some of the work would need to be taken by the county council – and Mr Finch said they were working on proposals to ease congestion at the Havens roundabout near the A14 at Nacton. But there would still be a need for Highways England to improve the junction.
The No More Delays campaign is due to meet with the Department for Transport and Highways England to press its case on September 15.
It is backed by several Suffolk MPs – and their efforts are led by Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill.
She said: “The A14 is absolutely vital for businesses and also ordinary motorists. My constituents use it every day for even quite short journeys and if there are problems, it is a real problem.
“We have to be able to persuade the government that we need this investment.”
Mrs Churchill said the campaign was about more than the seven junctions: “There are other areas that need attention – like the surface of the A14 between Haughley and Woolpit in my constituency which is very noisy for local residents.”
There is a similar problem with the surface of the road between the Copdock Mill interchange and Wherstead which causes noise problems for some Pinewood residents on the edge of Ipswich.
The campaign is spearheaded by the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.
Nick Burfield, its policy director, said the decision to concentrate on seven “pinch points” was taken because they were the junctions where cost/benefit analysis could show a clear advantage to carrying out the work.
He said: “The A14 is vital to business for Britain as a whole as well as Suffolk itself. It is the main link from the midlands and north to major ports and it is very important that Highways England recognises that.”
The campaign includes representatives from Highways England (East) but now the battle is to persuade the national body and DfT that Suffolk’s needs should be considered alongside other parts of the country.
Matt Moss runs Poundfield Products which manufactures pre-stressed concrete equipment at Creeting St Peter near Needham Market.
He said: “The A14 is absolutely vital to our business. We operate on a ‘just in time’ principal and rely on deliveries of cement to allow us to make our products.
“The other day we were due to get a delivery at 3pm and it eventually arrived just after 5pm. We had people waiting around for two hours not doing a great deal – it really does need to be improved.”
He also needs easy access to get his products distributed across the country: “We don’t hold a great amount of stock here. We manufacture when it is needed and get it out straight away – we go all out in all directions. It is vital that we have a good road.”