Could new fund kick-start investment in Manningtree rail crossing?
A road and rail crossing in Manningtree is one of the potential projects that could receive millions thanks to a new council fund.
Tendring District Council's Rural and Urban Infrastructure Fund - a dedicated pot of £1.2million announced at the council's budget on February 11 - is aimed at kick-starting larger projects within the district.
Potential schemes to benefit from the fund are a much-discussed Manningtree crossing, a Thorpe-le-Soken bypass or upgrades the A120, with the fund being used to encourage other stakeholders and the government to invest as well.
Council deputy chairman Carlo Guglielmi said: "It's this kind of fund that can get the ball rolling on projects like the crossing in Manningtree.
"It's been identified as one of the worst bottlenecks for traffic in the county, but now we have the MPs, Network Rail, Greater Anglia and Babergh District Council all around the table and I believe we can get something done about this.
"We have short-term plans for the crossing, we would like to see if a traffic light system under the bridge would be an effective way to deal with congestion.
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"And in the long-term, when the franchise for the rails is renewed in 2026, we want to get something like the crossing agreed with the rail companies.
"For big schemes like these we need strong evidence and strong information before we move forward."
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The £1.2m funding comes from the council's New Homes Bonus for 2019/20, a grant paid by central government to local councils where housing growth is planned or underway.
Mr Guglielmi added: "Other councils have used this bonus to prop up their budgets, but not here. We have always invested it in our community."
The new fund is based on the model of the previous Coastal Improvement and Enhancement Fund, which was set up in 2011.
The council allocated £3m to fund major sea defence works in Holland-on-Sea, which was then backed up by a further £37m from other partners and central government.
Council leader Neil Stock said: "Obviously, I want to make clear, the £1.2m in this fund will not be anywhere near enough to pay for any of those projects outright.
"But just as we did with the coastal improvement works, it could provide the seed-funding necessary not only to demonstrate our serious commitment, but also to provide the technical framework necessary for such projects to progress and succeed, and to attract the large-scale funding they will require.
"It is my hope this new fund can be used in a similar manner to kick-start a much bigger project or projects to bring about vital improvement to key infrastructure within the district."