A12 patrols may be cut
BUSINESS leaders have urged Essex County Council not to scrap a pioneering scheme which is helping to clear congestion on the A12.
Special council-funded police patrols of the busy road, which have been running for a year, now face an uncertain future with public-sector funding cuts looming.
Essex Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for the patrols to be safeguarded from Government cuts taking place this October.
Chairman Iain Wicks said: “The A12 police patrols have proved their worth in the year they have been operating as the specialist officers are fast to react to incidents on the A12 and then deal with them quickly so that traffic can get on the move again.
“That is especially good for businesses as every minute spent in a traffic jam while an accident is cleared eats into their profits and in today’s economic climate that is not good news at all.
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“Essex FSB is keen to see the A12 police patrols continue and hope that between them ECC and Essex Police Authority will find the funds to finance their work despite the Government cuts.
“We believe they are good value for money, saving businesses and motorists many times what the patrols cost in saved time across the year.”
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The patrols, which took to the road for the first time in September last year, were funded by a start-up grant of �1.5million from the county council.
A team of officers patrol the road every day from 6am to midnight keeping it as clear and safe as possible.
Norman Hume, who is responsible for the council’s highways and transportation, said: “We are waiting for the Government’s comprehensive spending review in October until any decisions are made.
“The A12 patrols are a non-statutory service so they are something that we will be looking at along with everything else. We are spending a lot of public money on them so we have to decide if they are affordable and provide value to the taxpayer.
“The scheme has cost about �900,000 over 18 months which includes the purchase of new vehicles.
“There is clear evidence that the extra patrols have improved traffic flow on the road.”