A120 dualling silence angers council

THE Government was under increasing pressure last night to publish details of its plans for a massive new road-building scheme in Essex.A number of controversial proposals for the new dual carriageway between Braintree and the A12 at Marks Tey - completing a faster link to Stansted Airport - were put out to consultation in February 2005.

THE Government was under increasing pressure last night to publish details of its plans for a massive new road-building scheme in Essex.

A number of controversial proposals for the new dual carriageway between Braintree and the A12 at Marks Tey - completing a faster link to Stansted Airport - were put out to consultation in February 2005.

But although the Highways Agency estimated an announcement on the final chosen route for the new road would be announced last year, details of the scheme have still not been published.

Yesterday Essex County Council members demanded the Secretary of State for Transport publish the proposed route through the Highways Agency as soon as possible.

And last night Graham Butland, leader of Braintree District Council, added: “The expansion of the A120 eastwards from Braintree to the A12 at Marks Tey is absolutely essential for this district.

“Traffic currently uses the dualled A120 from Stansted to Braintree quite quickly, and then when it gets to the Galleys Corner roundabout it goes into what is virtually a country lane.

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“We have been expecting a decision for a considerable period of time. There are now still four or five possible routes, so you end up with planning blight because nobody knows which areas will be affected by the new road.

“I am pleased that Essex County Council is now making this demand. When the decision is made it will relieve a number of people from the uncertainty as to whether they are going to be in the path of the expansion.”

Mr Butland said improvement of the road was badly needed as it was currently an unsuitable single lane carriageway, and with the potential expansion at Stansted Airport and the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe, demand could grow enormously in coming years.

Bob Barrett, of the Cressing A120 Action Group, has been campaigning for a decision for years and said residents living in the area were “sick and tired” about the lack of progress.

He said: “They have blighted the complete area, running from Braintree to Colchester. Nobody knows what is happening.

“The sooner we know exactly where it is going we'll all be happier, even if its bad news, at least we'll know where we stand.”

Rodney Bass, the county council's former head of highways who put forward the motion to council, said the Government's “dithering” was affecting residents who need to know how they will be affected.

He said: “This is the government not fulfilling its promise. It is now a year since it said it would announce the preferred route.

“It is needed now - Essex needs this link. It is about time the Government really started to deliver something, all we're asking for is the route and then we'll argue about the money.”

A spokesman for the Highway Agency said he was unable to give a timetable for any new announcement, but said: “The options for the scheme the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey are being considered and a submission to the minister is being prepared.”