Last Friday I chaired the first 2017 meeting of the No More A14 Delays in Suffolk campaign. Driven by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce it brought together councillors, local business leaders, representatives from Highways England, the Department of Transport and other key stakeholders. Using the approaching Roads Investment Strategy Phase 2 and the Government’s Industrial Strategy, this session took a broad look at our infrastructure across East Anglia, and what we need to be asking for here in Suffolk.
At the heart of the new Industrial Strategy is a commitment to economic growth by enabling business and delivering a cutting edge workforce. Complimenting this is a need to upgrade infrastructure with “local growth priorities”. For instance, the heavy congestion of junctions in and around Bury St Edmunds which causes long tail backs and discourages trade, is repeated from Newmarket to Ipswich. Building on such priorities is precisely what the campaign is concentrating on; relieving strategic points of local infrastructure from delays, and opening up access for businesses and road users alike. In particular, these conversations deliver good ideas like the Road Haulage Group suggestion of making traffic lights, like those in Bury St Edmunds, part time.
Looking at the broader progress being made across the country, but ensuring our infrastructure priorities in Suffolk are recognised, is key. Future projects such as the Oxford to Cambridge expressway and A14 improvements in Cambridgeshire will all, in time, benefit Suffolk. However, Suffolk’s long term strategy isn’t about waiting for progress in other regions, but being proactive in developing and achieving our own goals. The A14 already provides a vital route for 70% of cargo passing through Felixstowe Port. Using regional development plans as a model for our own campaigns, our focus is to determine and highlight what is key about Suffolk, for Suffolk.
Furthermore, with exciting blueprints for The Upper Orwell Crossings, Copdock and Seven Hill in Ipswich, it is imperative the A14 in Suffolk and junctions like Nacton can sustain increased commuter, and freight transport from Felixstowe Port. Only then can we grow Suffolk’s own potential, as well as service other regional economies.
Therefore, by considering Suffolk’s strategic importance, as well as how we interface with Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk, we are developing an A14 strategy for improved infrastructure and to drive our economy forward.
Published in the East Anglian Daily Times