Inquiry into Britain's worst road

AN INQUIRY has been launched to examine the reasons behind major congestion on “Britain's worst road”, the A12.The study by the county council is thought to be the first of its kind to be held by a local authority into a major trunk route.

AN INQUIRY has been launched to examine the reasons behind major congestion on “Britain's worst road”, the A12.

The study by the county council is thought to be the first of its kind to be held by a local authority into a major trunk route.

It is to be led by Sir David Rowlands, a former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport.

Last year, the dual carriageway route was named as the worst in Britain in a survey carried out by an insurance firm.

Sir David, who lives near Chelmsford, said he was among thousands of motorists caught in long delays following an accident on the A12 in October.

“My wife and I were going to the Stour Valley RSPB nature reserve and we got caught in it,” he said.

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“It took us about two hours to get off the A12. It certainly helped reinforce my interest in improving it.”

Sir David said he was never able to influence policy relating to his home county during his time working for the Government.

“When I was at the Department for Transport, I very carefully did not allow any personal interest to dictate what I or the department did,” he said.

“Now I'm retired, I can certainly help.”

Lord Hanningfield, leader of the council, said the exact cost of the inquiry - to be held on April 17, May 1 and May 19 - was not known but was likely to be a “few thousand pounds”.

He added: “I think the A12 is possibly the worst road in the UK. Surely any Government would have to do something about that.”

He said it was a road of “national importance” and vital to the country's economy.

The inquiry will look at improving the running of the route, safety measures and the possibility of widening it to three lanes.

The inquiry's findings will be presented to the Government as part of a bid to secure extra funding, the council said.

Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed the inquiry and said motorists deserved a “better deal” as they were paying record amounts in taxation but getting little back in terms of improved roads.

He said: “When things go wrong on the railways, we usually see full investigations and compensation if passengers are unduly delayed. Yet when things go wrong on the roads we are just expected to put up with it. This is not good enough.

“Perhaps Sir David Rowlands should head up inquiries into the performance of roads in other parts of the country, although this would turn into a full-time job.”