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MP gets backing for pursuing new road idea

Saturday, 22nd March 2014.

A well-attended public meeting last night backed Haverhill's MP in efforts to find a solution to the town's transport links with Cambridge.

Matthew Hancock had managed, for the first time, to get all the key players in this long ongoing debate in one room at the same time, including senior county councillors for Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

But he had also attracted a hefty lobby from the Cambridgeshire villages who are very concerned about the impact of the latest idea for dualling the A1307 from Haverhill to Linton and then creating a new dual-track road from there to the A111 along the alignment of the Roman Road.

In order to get the backing from the meeting for pursuing the work, he had to include a caveat that a route could be identified which was satisfactory enough to all not to raise huge objection.

The scheme has been estimated at 80million and Cllr Ian Bates of Cambridgeshire, Cllr Graham Newman of Suffolk, as well as representatives of the Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, made it clear that even between them all they did not have that level of cash.

This was even including the City Deal for Cambridge announced by chancellor George Osborne in the Budget this week.

Mr Hancock said his role would be to press Government to put in more cash, but he needed a plan toput to them that was broadly agreeable to the areas involved, so he was listening to people's views.

These views ranged from people in the villages urging Haverhill's development to be put entirely on hold until better infrastructure was in place, to Haverhill's town mayor Cllr Roger Andre saying growth was unstoppable and transport improvement essential.

"People want to live here in Haverhill," he said. "Growth cannot be resisted and business needs a new road."

But Haverhill county councilloir Tony Brown said a transport plan for Haverhill was needed. "There should not be growth here unless we get that first," he said.

Another Haverhill county councillor Julian Flood said Haverhill was uniquely disadvantaged in being so big and having neither major road nor railway.

"It is clear Cambridgeshire are in the driving seat," he said. "There is a danger they may look at Haverhill just as a source of bodies - workers. Haverhill needs to be an equal partner with Cambridge in this so we can grow our own industry."

Among around 70 people present were representatives from the village parish councils, including Cllr Roger Hickford from Linton, also a South Cambridgeshire district councillor, who favoured the new road idea.

He admitted there was a school of thought that nothing should be done about the A1307 at all and when it got bad enough people would just find other ways, but he did not agree.

Cllr Graham Newman, Suffolk portfolio holder for transport, said they were keen to do what they could to foster the growth of Haverhill. He asked if a bus, guided or otherwise, would be a solution.

Businessman Robert Maidment said Haverhill was an exporting town and needed two-way industrial traffic. A bus was no good to industry, he said.

Various pressure groups were represented, including Esther Cornell of the A1307 action group who said the meeting marked a degree of progress not seen before.

Stuart Millar, chairman of Horseheath Parish Council said they didn't want a dual carriageway bisecting their parish.

"Additional traffic along there will not be popular and the majority don't support it," he said.

Mr Hancock said the A1307 was the single biggest issue in Haverhill that he got asked about, and it had not yet been addressed.

He favoured the new road idea, saying: "There are a lot of cornfields between here and the A11."

Haverhill Online News

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