Fury at road improvement delay

By Liz HearnshawFURIOUS campaigners whose lives have been made a misery by a noisy dual carriageway have criticised the Government after promised improvements were shunted down a priority list.

By Liz Hearnshaw

FURIOUS campaigners whose lives have been made a misery by a noisy dual carriageway have criticised the Government after promised improvements were shunted down a priority list.

Villagers in Exning, near Newmarket, could now be forced to wait another eight years before noise reduction measures, scheduled for completion in 2005, are installed along the busy A14.

The revelation has angered West Suffolk Conservative MP Richard Spring, who said the Government had failed his constituents by breaking its promise and subjecting them to almost another decade of interruption and uncertainty.

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“I am absolutely furious that this Government has unashamedly broken its assurance to the people of Exning,” added Mr Spring.

“The village has been shunted down the list of priorities and is now referred to as a category two site by the minister - a convenient euphemism for the fact that the Government have failed to come up with money and timetable to keep the promises made.

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“I am mortified about this decision - as my constituents will be too. They will go on to suffer a further 10 years of misery.

“This Government has failed my constituents and I am appalled they are showing no remorse in relaying this news to me.”

David Jamieson, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Transport, said £5 million in ring-fenced funding, earmarked annually for noise reduction work around the country, had been spent on other projects which had proved more costly than originally hoped.

“It was envisaged that sites, including the A14 at Exning, would either be resurfaced with low noise surface or receive other appropriate noise mitigation measures by 2005,” he added.

“But it has become evident that the programme to provide all sites earmarked for noise mitigation measures cannot be achieved from the budget by the target date.

“I am sorry that help may not come as quickly as originally envisaged, but would like to assure villagers we do intend to carry out appropriate mitigation works at Exning within a 10-year period, as soon as funds permit.”

The announcement has angered villagers, whose homes fall within the six-lane section of the roadway where the A14 meets the A11.

Gillian Clarkson, chairman of the A14 noise reduction working group of Exning Parish Council, said: “The noise has just become absolutely intolerable. I can't find the words to describe how we feel about this.

“We are angry, we are annoyed and we are devastated. We can't go into our gardens or open our windows as we are faced with the most awful roar of noise.

“But we do have the consolation of knowing we are still on the list and the work will be done at some point.

“The money earmarked by the Government is just not sufficient - £5m is set aside to cover the whole country and because the budget is ring fenced, it cannot be added to.”

Work on the A14 was among 70 projects nationwide identified as priorities during a study in late 1990s.

The improvements at Exning have now become part of a 10-year plan, begun in 2001, pushing back the target date for completion to 2011.


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