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West Suffolk: Business leaders voice serious concerns over impact of A14 toll road on area’s economy

08:39 19 September 2013

The A14.

The A14.

Archant

Business leaders believe a toll on the A14 would be a significant threat to the economy in west Suffolk.

Their comments come as a petition is launched against the proposed charge on using the upgraded road between Cambridge and Huntington.

The £1.5billion upgrade would see a new stretch of A14 between Ellington and Swavesey and a wider A1 between Brampton and Alconbury.

Businessman Tim Meadows-Smith, who started the e-petition last week, said the economy of west Suffolk was quite significantly driven by its proximity to the Haven Gateway subregion, which includes the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich, Ipswich and Mistley.

He said: “The A14 is a very important piece of infrastructure for the whole county, and the west of the county in particular, and we are going to have to pay the price for an upgrade nobody else in the country needs to pay. It’s just unfair.”

On how serious the situation is for the west Suffolk economy, he said: “Let’s not get this out of proportion. It’s only a fraction of a percentage point on the total cost to the economy. But when added to all the other things business has to bear, it’s just another reason why you would consider being one side [of the toll] than the other.”

Colin Knight, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, said: “Anybody that has anything delivered, even if you ordered something on Amazon, it’s going to come here via some sort of transport into Bury and everyone coming that way is going to suffer that particular charge.”

He added: “More costs will end up being passed onto the customer.”

While Mr Meadows-Smith and Mr Knight do not think a toll would force west Suffolk businesses to relocate, Mr Meadows-Smith said what it would do is make companies - particularly those which rely on distribution - think twice about moving to the area.

“It’s just relatively harder for the people in Suffolk - business community and people - to pave their way to thrive,” said Mr Meadows-Smith.

Mr Knight added: “I think if you have an alternative route that makes a toll road a bit more acceptable.”

To sign the petition visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/54801

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