Hart of the Matter
For all those who struggle daily along the A1307 to work, this morning’s launch of an official campaign to have the A1307 dualled for its entire length between Haverhill and Cambridge will have been very welcome.
However, we should not hold our breath until the campaign bears fruit because it is likely to be a long drawn-out process. After all, the road did not get into the recently-announced list of highway schemes which the Government has trumpeted its intention of funding in the eastern region.
One assumes this omission has led directly to the launch of the latest campaign, which will be backed strongly by a wide range of interests from road safety to business requirements.
It was with some Irony that we were able to see the local boss of Culina expressing how the current road is an obstacle in his business, as his lorries are quite an obstacle in our travelling along it.
Nevertheless, it is good to see a range of interests pulling together over an issue which affects Haverhill so directly. My fear is that even if the road were dualled for its entire length, it would not be long before it looked much the same as it does today, except with two lines of jammed traffic each way instead of one.
Most new road schemes are almost out of date before they are completed nowadays, unless they carry a toll, and I don’t think any of us would be happy to see the A1307 with toll-gates at each end.
Apart from anything else, the road, as I pointed out recently, may be what business wants and needs, but it is unlikely to help commuters very much, unless it provokes a large increase in the frequency of the bus service, which is unlikely, as it is reasonably frequent already for a rural area.
You may have read recently about how the police foiled one of the many attempts to move a quantity of serious drugs into Haverhill, thanks to one of the bus drivers.
London drug-dealers are now taking an interest in Haverhill and there is quite a battle ahead to prevent their activities from ballooning. The police need members of the public to be vigilant, give them any important information so they can take action, and then the dealers may begin to think Haverhill is not such an easy place to operate in, and shove off.
This was an example of just such vigilance, as the bus driver contacted police while he was en route, and they turned up to meet him at Haverhill bus station, where he was able to point out two suspicious individuals and warn police that one of them had boasted he had a taser.
Apparently you can order a taser from America via the Internet quite easily. One of our jolly brave PCs, John Moore, proved quicker on the draw than the dealer, who was captured and found to have a large quantity of Class A drugs on him.
It’s a nice success story, illustrating the importance of public vigilance, but to me it also highlighted the issue of public transport. If you think about it, Haverhill’s poor infrastructure is a bugbear to all forms of business, including, presumably, drug-dealing.
I expect these guys are used to nipping about all over London by buses, trains and tubes, and slipping off into regional towns and cities to wide their interests by the same methods. No car number plates to be picked up and identified.
But Haverhill provides a challenge to even the drug-dealer. He’s got to go by train to Cambridge and then catch a bus, and if he wants to make a swift getaway, there’s only one way out, and maybe at least half an hour to wait for a rather slow bus.
Still, it would give him the chance to have a look around at the town, and he might notice that things are looking up. There’s now a clock again at the bus station, in Jubilee Walk – and not just any old clock. It’s a splendid new design based on the Olympic Torch, and the fact that we face three different counties.
The metalwork sits neatly within what is now a growing portfolio of public realm designs which are giving the town a theme of stainless steel – the Spirit of Enterprise on the Gateway roundabout, the Queen Street gates, the Haverhill bollard and the Head, which, sadly, due to safety considerations, has to sit within the grounds of Samuel Ward Academy.
These are all forward-looking in concept, but, just to show we have not forgotten our history, a completely different project came to completion this week in St Mary’s Churchyard.
Giant pictures done by schoolchildren from all over the area, and based on aspects of the town’s history, are now in place in the niches provided by the blocked-up windows in the Gurteen’s building around the churchyard.
Each has an old photo beside it to explain what the main picture is all about, and all is set within the newly re-landscaped green area, now fitted with extra lighting from old-fashioned style lampposts.
So there is quite a lot for people to see when they finally make their way here down the dual carriageway of the A1307. If and when we have the full 2,500 new homes built in north-east Haverhill (2031, according to the planners), will we also have that dual carriageway?
Or will, by then, people have decided they are fed up with traffic jams and that perhaps – just perhaps – there is another solution? And what are these poor old businesses going to do in the meantime?