MP's fury at road safety scheme delay

By Liz HearnshawAN MP has voiced his anger after learning work to dual a "treacherous" stretch of road will not begin for at least three years because of a lack of money.

By Liz Hearnshaw

AN MP has voiced his anger after learning work to dual a "treacherous" stretch of road will not begin for at least three years because of a lack of money.

Roads minister Dr Stephen Ladyman has told Richard Spring, West Suffolk MP, that work on a project to dual the A11 between the Fiveways Roundabout in Mildenhall and Thetford will now not begin before 2008 or 2009.

The announcement was met with disgust by campaigners who have long fought for action along the route, which has claimed almost 70 lives in 20 years.

Mr Spring had requested that Dr Ladyman met a delegation from Forest Heath District Council to discuss the project and said his constituents had been "let down again" after the minister refused.

"I cannot express more strongly the disappointment I feel. Yet again my constituents have been let down by this Government and lives continue to be put at risk," he said.

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"I find the Government's stance incomprehensible. I shall see the minister privately about this matter, but the outlook remains grim for both my constituents and other travellers who use this treacherous road.

"Nevertheless, I shall continue my campaign and will not be deterred by this poor judgment of this Government."

Dr Ladyman refused the meeting, saying his predecessor, David Jamieson, had already discussed the matter with a delegation in March.

He added the project was under consideration on a regional level, where schemes would be placed in order of priority, and the results of this were due later this year.

But Dr Ladyman warned: "I have to advise that, currently, funds are not available to advance the A11 Fiveways to Thetford scheme.

"However, the Highways Agency will continue to prepare details so that the scheme is in a state of readiness to move forward to construction, as soon as its priority and funding is confirmed. Construction work will not start before 2008/09.

"As the position has not changed since March, I suggest that a further meeting on this subject with representatives of the local council would not be useful at this time."

Rona Burt, chairman of Tuddenham Parish Council and a member of the district council, described the announcement as "dreadful", saying officials had promised the project would begin this year.

"It is awful when we have been promised that the work is going to happen, then all of a sudden it changes overnight. It is not fair that we yet again have been disappointed," she added.

"At the end of last year we were told it was going to start. Now it seems an awfully long way down the line. I think we are now going to have to set up our own local campaign to lobby the minister.

"There are reports in the paper virtually every day that there has been an accident or hold up somewhere along that road. Those who use the A11 on a regular basis must be completely fed up."

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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