A14 DRAFT ORDERS FOR THE A14 SCHEME
The Highways Agency has today published the draft Orders for the A14 scheme, which is the largest single scheme in the Trunk Road Programme. The orders when / if ultimately approved by the Secretary of State will give the legal powers to acquire the land, construct the scheme including new lengths of County road, and de-trunk lengths of superseded A14. Other minor orders involving drainage and traffic regulation will need to follow separately. We now have a thirteen week period for objections to be lodged. The final date for this will be January 6, 2010.
The Highways Agency has deposited for public inspection, copies of the draft Orders in most branch libraries along the route. Additional copies have been lodged with Huntingdonshire DC, South Cambridgeshire DC, Cambridge City and ourselves at Shire Hall reception.
Also, the Agency is arranging two Public Information Exhibitions about the scheme details. The first is to run from Friday 9th October (2-8pm), Saturday 10th (10am – 8pm), Sunday 11th (10am – 6pm) to Monday 12th (10am- 8pm) at Huntingdon Race Course with a courtesy hourly bus, beginning at 11am from Huntingdon Bus Station. The second exhibition will run from Thursday 15th October (10am -8pm), Friday 16th (10am-8pm), Saturday 17th (10am -8pm) to Sunday 18th (10am- 6pm) at The University Arms in Regent Street in Cambridge.
Members with a Divisional / Portfolio interest are also invited to a press/ VIP preview of the exhibition on the morning of the Friday 9th.
In terms of process for the County Council, it will mean that Cabinet at its 15th December meeting will need to consider the Council’s position on all aspects of the scheme, and this will form the basis of the Council’s stance at the almost inevitable Public Inquiry.
To lead up to that Cabinet meeting, we are trying to organise a special Member Briefing for Friday morning 30th October at Shire Hall (Ramparts Room) when Members with a Divisional / Portfolio interest will be able to come and discuss at 9.00 on a one to one basis if necessary, their Divisional interest and then at 10.00 receive a presentation with questions from the Highways Agency. This would be followed by a Member discussion with Lead Members to help formulate the Council’s response.
I requested that consideration be given to holding these panels in Horningsea on a rotation basis with Linton and Fulbourn.
I have had a number of exchanges with the deputy chief constable over the matter of crime statistics being removed from ecops. Despite his initial response not being favourable he has now agreed with my position and has tasked someone to look into the matter county wide.
The difficult issue of keeping the traffic flowing was debated again at Cabinet. Whilst everyone agrees that infrastructure improvements are vital there is little support for a congestion charge. The cabinet paper will be debated at full council on October 13th. I remain opposed to congestion charging, as a matter of principle, but see merit in the approach outlined in the paper. In short, all the infrastructure improvements need to be put in place first, then congestion will be measured and only then, if congestion reaches a certain level will charging be brought in. This seems sensible and hopefully will mean congestion charging will never be needed. Of course the devil will be in the detail as always.
At the recent cabinet meeting I spoke in support of agenda item 16, which detailed the planned cycling town infrastructure improvements. In particular I was able to give the cabinet some idea of the passion felt by our parishes for the cycle ways.
Interestingly, the same paper was opposed from the people of Milton, in the form of a petition, as they were very concerned about losing the school bus as a result of a cycle way. There view seemed to be if it was not all perfect then they did not want any of it. I’m afraid I am much more pragmatic. Getting a cycle way in will be great for the villages. If this creates other issues sometime down the road then we will deal with them. All cycle ways generate an automatic school bus review 12 months after the cycle way has been created. There will be full consultation, at that point, and there is an appeal process. I am optimistic that the A14 junction will remain dangerous enough to cross to retain the school bus.
The paper was approved by cabinet which means there is the go ahead for the schemes to be developed further and implemented. There will now be meetings with council officers to hammer out the details of the cycle way and then it should be full speed ahead to build it.