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Poll: Are poor rail connections and traffic-logged roads preventing investment in Essex?

PUBLISHED: 12:46 24 October 2012

Dartford Bridge

Dartford Bridge

Jamie Gray

MPS have warned a lack of investment in transport infrastructure is holding back businesses in Essex.

Six MPs from the county yesterday took part in a parliamentary debate on the issue initiated by the Conservative member for Witham, Priti Patel.

Ms Patel called for the Government to invest in the county’s road and rail networks to support economic growth and spoke of the role that 52,000 private sector businesses play in adding £28billion in value to the UK economy.

But she also highlighted how poor infrastructure links are holding businesses back and preventing them from generating growth and creating jobs.

In addition, she called for improvements to be made to the A12 and A120 roads, upgrades to the rail network, including the introduction of a passing loop on the Braintree to Witham branch line, and a review of the operation and tolls charged at the Dartford Crossing. Commenting afterwards Ms Patel said: “Essex is an engine of economic growth for the whole country, with our local businesses making a tremendous contribution to the wider economy and supporting jobs. #

“But while our businesses are modern, innovative and forward looking they are facing additional costs and barriers by our outdated infrastructure. We have 21st-Century businesses being held back by 20th-Century infrastructure.” For too long our roads and railways have been ignored and overlooked for investment.

“If they were upgraded to meet modern demands then our entrepreneurs would be able to generate more growth and create more jobs for the economy.”

Conservative MP for Saffron Walden Sir Alan Haselhurst highlighted the need for more of Essex’s principal roads to be upgraded to motorways and called for a better deal for commuters.

He said; “Infrastructure is probably too grand a word for the transport arrangements in our county. We enjoy relative prosperity, yet we have, varyingly, either no transport infrastructure worthy of the name or totally inadequate infrastructure.”

Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, Sir Bob Russell, also spoke about the problems of traffic congestion around the town’s main rail station and the potential of it getting worst as more homes are built in the area.

He added: “On occasion, we in Essex feel that we have been neglected and forgotten by the Department for Transport.”

Before the Westminster Hall debate MPs had met with representatives from Essex Chambers of Commerce and Stansted Airport, who briefed them on the need for investment in the county’s road and rail networks.

Chief executive of the chambers, Denise Rossiter, said “We have some of the UK’s most important gateways in Essex and if we are to grow our economy with exports as the Government wants, then we need to be able to access them with maximum ease and minimum delay.”

Managing director of Stansted, Nick Barton, added: “Stansted is a catalyst for regional growth and productivity, employing over 10,000 people and contributing over £400million in wages and salaries alone.

“The airport has a positive and significant impact on the regional economy but we are ambitious and are striving to attract more airlines and destinations to access more markets and grow more quickly. To help us do this we need investment in the region’s infrastructure so we are now calling on Government to invest in the rail line to Stansted and reduce the journey time to about 30 minutes, putting us on a level playing-field with our competitors.”

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