After over three years of evidence gathering and building considerable public support, the campaign to secure Government investment into the A14 in Suffolk is making its concluding case – ahead of an expected announcement later in the year.
The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce-led ‘No More A14 Delays in Suffolk’ camp has been building the business case for what is seen by most commentators as ‘Britain’s Premier Trade Route’ because of the amount of goods running along it, to and from the Port of Felixstowe. The campaign, which is looking to secure £150m from the second Roads Investment Strategy (RIS2) to address the seven worst pinch points, has now secured the backing of 150 businesses located along its Suffolk stretch.
The junctions considered to be the most severe pinch points are;
Junction 37 (Exning)
Junction 43 (Bury St. Edmunds – Central)
Junction 44 (Bury St Edmunds – Moreton Hall)
Junction 55 (Copdock Interchange)
Junction 56 (Ipswich – Wherstead)
Junction 57 (Ipswich – Ransomes Europark)
Furthermore, analysis from the campaign has revealed that no fewer than 423,000 jobs exist within the whole A14 corridor, between Kettering in the west to Felixstowe in the East.
Mark Pendlington, chair of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce-led A14 Strategy Board, has now written to the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, secretary of state for transport and others, demonstrating the level of support for the campaign and the boost to jobs and prosperity it would create more generally if successful.
Mark said: “We have demonstrated how an investment of £150m could be transformational, with a return on that investment to the national economy of £1.5bn. Which is why we see the A14 in Suffolk as the ‘golden thread’ running through our economy that has the potential to further boost business growth, and to attract and secure more jobs and inward investment in our growing economy.”
The campaign received a major boost last year when Highways England, the government-owned company with responsibility for the operation, maintenance and improvement to motorways and trunk roads, designated the highway as a ‘current, planned and potential expressway’. Expressways are motorway-grade two-lane highways and their designation requires that all junctions off and onto them are enhanced.
Since then, the campaign has contributed compelling evidence to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultation into the Highways England report to ensure that the A14 – and other Suffolk projects – are included.
A House of Commons reception, hosted at the start of 2019 by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, Mark Pendlington and Cllr. Mary Evans of Suffolk County Council, allowed the campaign to make its case in front of key decision-makers and influencers, including Chris Grayling himself.
Cllr Mary Evans said: “We know that upgrading these junctions will unlock growth and enable businesses in Suffolk to create 36,000 more jobs. Delays on the A14 are costing Suffolk businesses millions of pounds each year in terms of lost deliveries, missed appointments and cancelled meetings. Our ports are vital for the nation’s economy and we need to be able to rely on the A14 to transport our exports out of the country.”
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: “We believe our case is compelling – and we are hopeful that the Government will see the facts before them and invest in Britain by investing in Suffolk.”
The PCE GROUP are one of a number of growing businesses within easy reach of both ends of the proposed stretch, either from our HQ in Suffolk (via the A12) or from our Midlands factory in Leicestershire.
Managing Director James Cook said “Like many businesses throughout the East of England, we need to deliver our products and services swiftly to our UK and International client base. We also need to be easily accessible to our customers”.
“At present the A14 stretch is the final remaining piece of the national jigsaw, which will unlock and accelerate business growth and export potential, for so many businesses in the region”
“We fully support the campaign to invest in this final stretch, so that we and other Suffolk businesses enjoy greater accessibility to our customers”, James concluded.
Photograph by David Garrad.