As many will know the plan for an upgrade to the A14 has been dropped by the government, for reasons of cost. Despite it being recognised as a road of national importance the scheme, produced in different times, with a different government was seen to be unaffordable. Given the budget for the whole country, for these sort of schemes, is £1.4 billion and the A14 scheme was going to cost £1.2 Billion it has been obvious for some time that it was not going to happen. And, that £1.4 billion is for the whole of this funding period is already committed elsewhere.
A number of local authority leaders, together with our most senior officers and others, met with the Department for Transport as part of an A14 steering group on the 5th July. DfT had arrived to put in place a new study for a smaller scheme. Many of us in the room made it very clear that it was action we needed not more studies. However, those that understand the workings of government, better than I do, were able to convince me that without another study their is no money and hence no upgrade. We were able to signal clearly that most, if not all, of the data must be available from previous studies so our expectation would be for a short refresh rather than a huge re-write.
We were able to lobby hard for an interim study to see what short term measures could be taken to make some improvements to the A14 right now. This seemed to convince DfT of the merits of a two stage approach which they agreed to. I was able to offer assistance in drawing up a list of improvements that could be achieved early.
So, when a Lib Dem motion came before full council yesterday on this subject, it felt like a motion that said the sun will rise every day. The trouble was it was flawed in content and would serve no purpose except some local publicity for the Lib Dems.
I continue to find it odd that some opposition members have so little knowledge of what is going on in the council and seem to think that the council does not do anything unless they shout about it. I am left wondering if they have somehow lost the trust of the council as a result of repeatedly leaking confidential information.