Delight as A11 dualling survives the cutbacks

DELIGHTED campaigners are celebrating news the Government has backed a dualling of the A11 despite stringent spending cuts.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the �120million project to widen the stretch between Barton Mills and Thetford would go ahead in his Government Spending Review yesterday.

The news comes amidst a swathe of some of the deepest public spending cuts in peace time.

Retirement age in the UK will rise from 65 to 66 by 2020 and 490,000 public sector jobs could be lost in the next four years.

A new time limit to incapacity benefits and changes to Jobseeker’s Allowance are also expected to create �7billion of savings under the new spending review.

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But the vital scheme to widen the A11 was one of a handful of transport projects to benefit from a �30bn capital spending programme.

Mike Brown, founder of the action group Gateway A11 East, said he was thrilled by the decision.

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“It is fantastic news,” he said. “We have been waiting a long time for this.

“The uncertainty has now been resolved and we can crack on.”

Pressure has been mounting on the Government to widen the nine-mile stretch of road and eliminate the accident blackspot at the Elveden crossroads.

Mr Brown, who formed the pressure group with fellow activist Simon Long, said yesterday’s announcement was the end of a long battle to get the job done.

“We have been waiting for this for a long time,” he said. “It is fantastic news for East Anglia.

“We are getting a real shot in the arm and it will open the door to the region.

“Supporters are absolutely delighted, we are thrilled to bits.”

It is hoped improvements to the straight will cut the number of deaths on the road and open the area up to new business.

Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, welcomed the news, saying he was ‘delighted’ the Government had decided to press ahead with the important scheme to tackle the bottle neck.

“This is excellent news for the people of East Anglia and reflects the efforts of many people over many, many years,” he said. “It is good for residents, good for business and good for the growth of this area.

“It will change people’s lives.”

While Mr Osborne confirmed that the A11 would be dualled in Suffolk, it emerged later that the much larger scheme to improve the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon had been scrapped.

There had been plans for a new �1.4bn road from Cambridge to the west of Huntingdon to ease pressure on the notorious 10-mile stretch of dual carriageway.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, whose Cambridgeshire consitituency includes part of that section of the A14, confirmed the proposals had been dropped.

He said: “The A14 is a key strategic route and is recognised as such by the Government.

“However this scheme has been reassessed and does not meet the sustainability criteria.

“There will now be, as a matter of some urgency, a new look at how to ease congestion on this important route.

“One way is to switch more freight off the road and on to the rail network.”

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