July 24 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Congestion on Essex roads is costing money, jobs and growth, a transport minister has been told, amid calls for a new unit to deliver infrastructure in the county.
Witham MP Priti Patel told a Westminster debate that Essex is clearly in need of investment, citing businesses which claim they are losing up to £5,000 a week as a result of delays, and up to £50,000 a year from employees losing an average of two hours a week.
Ms Patel called for the Government to establish “localised, county-based infrastructure delivery units”, which would map plans for housing and jobs and plan where infrastructure cash should be spent.
She also called for the A120, which been identified as one of the ten most dangerous roads in the country, to be put in the Government’s national plan, so cash could be found to improve the 12-mile single carriageway between Marks Tey and Braintree.
Robert Goodwill said that schemes in its £28 billon National Infrastructure Plan had been deemed to be able to start work in the next parliament, and the A120 east of Braintree has not been included because the proposals were “not as yet sufficiently developed to be included in the Highways Agency pipeline of future projects”.
But he said the key route was being considered in the Highways Agency East of England route strategy, and suggested MPs work with the Highways Agency as it makes future plans on roads spending.
Ms Patel also highlighted the problems of poor surfacing, diversions caused by shutdowns on the A12, claiming that traffic and congestion in Kelvedeon had not been fully addressed by the Highways Agency.
She said: “In recent weeks a series of accidents at Hatfield Peverel and the impact this is causing on traffic and congestion on the A12 has led to Essex County Council suggesting that new road marking are installed, along with new signage.
“I hope that the Minister and Highways Agency will give these proposals some thought, along with the many other proposals that have been put forward along the A12 route to improve safety and reduce congestion.”
Ms Patel also asked for an update on plans for a new Thames Crossing, and was told there would be an update soon on how the government would move forward with plans to either develop a new crossing at the existing site or link the M2 near Rochester with the A13.
Mr Patel told the Westminster Hall debate: “Improvements to Essex-Kent road links will act as a turbo-charger for the economy of the whole of the east and south east.”
The Essex MP added: “Investing in better infrastructure in Essex is vital for the long term prosperity of the United Kingdom. Despite our entrepreneurial spirit successive Governments have failed to invest in Essex hence the decay and inadequacy in the county’s infrastructure.”