A14 improvements ‘vital’ to prosperity of county, Suffolk Chamber event told
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 March 2016
The future economic success of Suffolk is heavily reliant on improvements to the A14, an audience of more than 50 business leaders from across the county has heard.
Suffolk Chamber of Commerce hosted a business breakfast at Trinity Park, Ipswich, at which the speakers included Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and representatives from Suffolk County Council, Highways England and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The event formed part of the chamber’s “No More A14 Delays in Suffolk” campaign, with Stephen Britt, chairman of Suffolk Chamber’s transport infrastructure group, chairing the event.
“There is no doubt the A14 is not fit for purpose,” Mr Britt told guests. “Business in our county and across the East of England is demanding a road that can serve our growing economy and that of UK plc.”
Therese Coffey, who was key note speaker at the event, said: “At a time of growing investment across Britain let us not forget that Felixstowe in Suffolk, at the east end of the A14, is the port of choice for the Northern Powerhouse we hear so much about.
“Six of the seven MPs here in Suffolk have the A14 going through their constituency. As your elected representatives we continue to make the case to government for more investment in the A14 but that call needs the voice of business to be effective. That is why today is so important.”
The event heard from Highways England that supporting economic growth was the priority of its £15.2billion budget across the UK, and that it continued to revisit and refresh evidence relating to the Department for Trantport’s Roads Investment Strategy.
Guests heard that, despite concerns raised, the A14 generally had spare capacity between Cambridge and Felixstowe but there is an acknowledged need to address problems and constraints at a number of “pinch points” along the route.
James Finch, cabinet member for transport at Suffolk County Council, told the invited guests that for Suffolk to “attract the best talent means ensuring those people can move around the county more freely”.
“Suffolk County Council and its partners are continuing to work very hard on this vitally important issue,” he added. “Problems on the A14 at peak times are very costly to the local economy and for that reason we’ll continue to support this campaign, led by Suffolk Chamber, which is fundamental to securing the investment we need.”
Doug Field, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, based just off the A14 at Wherstead, near Ipswich, and also is a member of the New AngliA LEP board, said: “I know from my day to day experience as part of the Co-op of the vital importance of the A14.”
He added: “Eight million cases of food are transported daily and when there are delays and when there is congestion we cannot deliver in the way we need to do and that is bad for business.”
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said following the event: “We are encouraged that support for No More A14 Delays in Suffolk continues to grow and today’s business leaders’ breakfast has shown that the passion and commitment from local firms is stronger than ever.
“The A14 is not fit for purpose and is not fit to serve an exciting, thriving and growing Suffolk economy or the needs of UK plc.”