Priti Patel and Colchester in new war of words over delays to A12 widening
PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 January 2019
Colchester council has hit back at Witham Tory MP Priti Patel who launched a new salvo against the Lib/Lab-controlled authority over delays to the widening of the A12 between Chelmsford and Marks Tey.
Ms Patel said the long-awaited proposals to widen the road had been delayed because the Colchester council was dragging its heels on signing off its local plan.
However the borough said there were issues being discussed by a number of local authorities – with Conservative-run Essex County Council leading these discussions.
Ms Patel said: “The widening of the A12 is one of the most important infrastructure investments in this part of England and will provide a major boost to our economy.
“We were supposed to have had a decision last year on the route and diggers in the ground starting work next year but all this has now been pushed back.
“The delays to the A12 widening scheme caused by Colchester Borough Council are damaging to the economy and had they planned their housing proposals more effectively we would not be in this situation.”
However a spokesman for the borough said it was wrong to claim that the delay was down to its role in the the local plan process.
He said: “The responsibility for the future route will rest solely with Highways England and the government through the Department for Transport.
“There is no question of delaying work on the A12, but we do have to get it right. In following the process for the Local Plan agreed with the Planning Inspector, the North Essex Authorities and Essex County Council have requested that the government chooses a final route which will meet the needs of a growing north Essex economy and the development principles that we have set out to deliver the proposed garden communities.
“If a garden community does come forward in this area, it is imperative the A12 follows the best possible alignment.
“Essex County Council continues to work on the detail of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid, to secure the finance for improvements to the A12 around Marks Tey and to allow the proposed new A120 road to join to the A12. Since this will be submitted in March, a great deal of work is currently underway to deliver the A12 widening scheme.”