Roads minister gets first-hand look at region’s troublespots
16:08 30 October 2014
Roads’ minister John Hayes got to grips with some of the county’s most serious transport problems during a day-long visit to Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
He was driven along the A14 from the Girton interchange to Ipswich where he was shown the proposed route of a new river crossing and heard traffic concerns about traffic likely to be generated by the northern fringe development.
After his visit to Ipswich he travelled to the Port of Felixstowe – he is also minister for shipping – where he saw the port in action and visited the new vessel Ever Lambent.
During his visit to Ipswich, Mr Hayes was shown the traffic problems in Valley Road by local MP Ben Gummer.
The minister insisted that the borough council should not approve development of the northern fringe until it was satisfied that roads would be able to cope with new traffic.
After discussing the issue with Rod Brooks from the Nothern Fringe Protection Group, Mr Hayes said it seemed clear that Westerfield Road was a country road that would not be able to cope with the number of vehicles from the massive new housing estate.
However he was not in a position to offer funding for a new northern by-pass or any other major road to the development.
He did say he felt it was important to get out of the office and see issues facing people on the ground.
He said: “I’ve been looking at the A14 today and seeing how the pinch-point scheme is working near Cambridge, but I know what motorists want to know is when things will happen on the stretch beyond there.
“This government has taken up the case and is pressing ahead with the major investment there – it’s been needed for years but we are going ahead with doing the work.”
And he insisted that work on the road was vital for the Port of Felixstowe: “As the minister responsible for our strategic roads, shipping and ports I am determined that we do all we can to improve the links between ports and our towns and cities to boost growth.
“Britain has long been a nautical powerhouse, with the maritime sector generating well over £8 billion for the economy every year.
“Our ports have weathered the economic storm of recent years better than many parts of the economy and I fully appreciate the importance of Felixstowe in delivering long term growth.
“With the busiest port in the UK at one end, improving the A14 is part of this government’s long term economic plan and is a priority infrastructure project.”
He added: “Britain has a great seafaring past, but it also has a great seafaring future ahead of it and we are determined to do all we can to encourage the development of that work over the next few years.”