150 businesses back call for A14 upgrade as road investment d-day looms

Campaigners supporting improvements to the A14 in Suffolk support Mary Evans and Mark Pendlington ne

Campaigners supporting improvements to the A14 in Suffolk support Mary Evans and Mark Pendlington near a busy section of the road near Bury St Edmunds. Picture: DAVID GARRAD/SUFFOLK CHAMBER - Credit: Archant

Demands that Highways England should upgrade junctions on the A14 across Suffolk have now been backed by 150 businesses from across the county.

The support was unveiled as the group pushing for the improvement stepped up its campaign as the government agency prepares to decide which improvements should be included in its next investment programme.

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce-led No More A14 Delays in Suffolk has been building the business case for what is seen by most commentators as Britain's Premier Trade Route because of the amount of goods running along it to and from the Port of Felixstowe.

The campaign, which is looking to secure £150m from the second Roads Investment Strategy (RIS2) to address the seven worst pinch points, has now secured the backing of 150 businesses located along its Suffolk stretch.

Furthermore, analysis from the campaign has revealed that 423,000 jobs exist within the A14 corridor between Kettering in the west and Felixstowe.

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Mark Pendlington, chair of the Suffolk chamber of Commerce-led A14 Strategy Board, has now written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and others, demonstrating the level of support for the campaign and the boost to jobs and prosperity it would create more generally if successful.

Mr Pendlington said: "We have demonstrated how an investment of £150m could be transformational, with a return on that investment to the national economy of £1.5bn.

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"Which is why we see the A14 in Suffolk as the 'golden thread' running through our economy that has the potential to further boost business growth, and to attract and secure more jobs and inward investment in our growing economy."

The campaign received a major boost last year when Highways England, the government-owned company with responsibility for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the motorways and trunk roads, designated the highway as a 'current, planned and potential expressway'.

A House of Commons reception, hosted at the start of 2019 by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, Mr Pendlington and Mary Evans of Suffolk County Council, allowed the campaign to make its case in front of key decision-makers and influencers, including Chris Grayling himself.

Mrs Evans said: "We know that upgrading these junctions will unlock growth and enable businesses in Suffolk to create 36,000 more jobs.

"Our ports are vital for the nation's economy and we need to be able to rely on the A14 to transport our exports out of the country."

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: "We believe our case is compelling - and we are hopeful that the Government will see the facts before them and invest in Britain by investing in Suffolk."

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