Essex: Government report on A12/A120 panned by councillors


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A Government report outlining a strategy for investment on two of Essex’s key roads has been panned by councillors as a “missed opportunity”.

The route-based strategy for the A12/A120, published by the Highways Agency yesterday, was hailed by roads minister Stephen Hammond as “a smarter, more robust approach to identifying, prioritising and planning where vital investment is needed on our roads”.

The report does not name many specific schemes but lays out a number of general approaches that it says will improve the roads in both the short and long term.

These include better use of technology and traffic officers to enable traffic flows and improved lay-bys and facilities for lorry drivers. The need to improve capacity at key junctions such as the A12/A14 Copdock interchange and for urgent investment to upgrade the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey are also identified.

But councillors do not think the report goes far enough in highlighting the real improvements required on the roads.

Leader of Tendring District Council, Peter Halliday, described the report as “disappointing” and called it a “missed opportunity”.

He said: “I was waiting with bated breath for this but there is nothing new here.

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“This is meant to be a route-based strategy but all it tells us is about how to make the traffic flow better across the county.

“It’s an operational document about how to get traffic from A to B - there is very little here about how road improvements can be used to attract inward investment and build jobs opportunties.”

Mr Halliday said he wanted to see mention of upgrading the A120 to core network status, so it can attract funding from Europe. He also said he was surprised the report had not detailed the need for the A120 to be made a dual carrigeway from Harwich to the Clacton turning in order to improve the chances of Hutchinson Ports establishing a container port in Harwich.

Essex County Council’s new cabinet holder for highways and transportation, Rodney Bass, was equally scathing of the report, calling it “just another study or scheme preparation.”

He added: “Unless it says the A12 needs to be triple-laned from the junction with the A14 at Ipswich down to he M25 and that the A12 must be made dual carriageway from Braintree to A12 and from Hare Green to Harwich - which needs to happen - then it’s coming up short.

“This report seems to be just the first tentative step on journey of 99 steps - and we’ve been up and down this step plenty of times in the past.”

Witham MP Prita Patel, who has been a lead campaigner for road improvements in Essex, welcomed the report but said she “would have liked to see it go further”.

She said: “The A12 is a major economic artery running through my constituency and across the region and for too long it has suffered from neglect and under-investment. I welcome the development of the Route Based Strategy, which articulates a clear vision for the future of this road and the need for investment, but would have liked to see it go further in addressing the problems on the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey.”

“I will be urging the Highways Agency and the Government to prioritise the upgrading of the A120 in addition to following through with these plans for the A12 so that our major roads can meet the needs of the twenty-first century.”