Conservatives survive A14 call-in with narrow victory

PUBLISHED: 11:24 18 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:25 18 October 2013

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The decision to commit £1million of East Cambridgeshire taxpayers' cash to the A14 upgrade was forced through by the Conservative group last night, albeit with a narrow majority.

The original decision of the development and transport committee to provide the money in principle was subject to a ‘call in’ by Liberal Democrats, who said East Cambs taxpayers should not be footing the bill.

Cllr Gareth Wilson, leader of the Lib Dem group, also added that if the road was tolled, it would force lorries onto the roads around Haddenham and Wilburton.

Council leader James Palmer was bullish heading into the meeting, however, saying he was “confident” his council would back the decision comfortably but, following an extensive debate at a meeting of full council, the ‘call in’ was defeat by just 20 votes to 17, with one councillor abstaining.

Councillor James Palmer, said: “The A14 has been a blight on the economic prosperity of our district, county and region for too long.

“The proposed upgrade aims to tackle the chronic congestion that builds up as thousands of cars and lorries use the route to criss-cross the country. This is infrastructure which we must invest in.

“Our contribution will help to ensure a road which many East Cambridgeshire residents and businesses rely on each day can be improved. I am proud that our district has always been forward looking and willing to work in partnership to deliver the things which people need. For make no mistake this is a significant project for the future of our region and one we know will help to bring investment, jobs and prosperity.”

The £1 million funding will be part of a local contribution of £100m to the £1.5billion project and will be paid via instalments of £40,000 from 2020.

The proposed scheme includes a new bypass to replace the existing road around Huntingdon as well as upgrades along the A14 as far east as Milton. The project will include an element of road tolling and new roads designed for local use.

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