I was delighted to speak at an event in Parliament that brought the national case for investment in the A14 in Suffolk to key decision makers. Working with businesses, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and the County Council, I put the case to the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, as to why this road is of strategic importance to the nation.
The campaign for investment in the A14 has been incredibly important to me since being elected in 2015. I enjoyed chairing the campaign and am determined that we continue to press the case with the Department for Transport for investment in this road.
Our town is home to a number of well-known companies such as Greene King who brew 5 million pints of beer a week and British Sugar who process and package 33% of the UK’s total sugar production. There are a larger number of companies who provide equipment and logistics, such as Claas, who are investing £22 million in their premises next door to Century Logistics. Martime Transport are another major employer in the region. For everyone in the supply chain, time is money.
The A14 in Suffolk connects the Port of Felixstowe to the M1, M6 and M11 at Catthorpe and Cambridge respectively. It is a crucial section in Britain’s Premier East-West Trade Route, ensuring businesses from across the country can export their orders on time and imports reach their destination. It is vital to the prosperity of our region and our country.
Quite simply the delays we currently see cannot be allowed to continue. Businesses, many represented at the event, are already seeing costs rise and profit margins fall as a result of the delays. With new developments planned and businesses set to expand, these costs are only likely to rise without investment.
So what is the solution? The proposals put forward by the campaign are for the A14 in Suffolk to be upgraded to an expressway standard, with the seven pinch points most urgently improved. The proposed investment would equate to around £150 million. This is no small figure. However, it would deliver a £1.5 billion total GVA uplift. A significant return I’m sure you will agree!
So, we have a clear set of proposals and the bid has been submitted. There is a clear case that a relatively small investment in the A14 in Suffolk will reduce delays, improve safety, create jobs and help the UK increase its exports.
What we need to do is ensure we keep our case front and centre in the minds of the Department for Transport. There will have been other good bids submitted as part of the RIS2 process. I have no doubt that ours is better!
You can find the business case for investment at https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk/media/46268/10327-scoc-a14-trade-route-brochure-v7-002.pdf