Photo: Caroline Page

A14 – why should years of underinvestment take an unjust toll?

Dave WoodSuffolk Lib Dems are deeply critical of  proposals to toll the A14. “We are saying  to government “You have got this wrong! Listen to us and to what the people of Suffolk are saying and revisit your decision to toll the A 14.”  And the majority of Suffolk organisations,  both private and Local Authority-led, are with us, ”  Leader David Wood told October’s full council meeting last Thursday.

The Lib Dems amended the  Conservative motion (to persuade the government to reconsider the need for tolling on this much-needed infrastructure project) by adding in reference to Suffolk’s  pressing need for investment in sustainable transport from  Felixstowe to Cambridge and beyond.

” The A14  is an esssential conduit between East Anglia and the heart of England –  and yet for years there has been underinvestment by various governments in major infrastructure projects in East Anglia. Imposing a toll on the new road would be a further tax on Suffolk,” said Cllr Wood. “We have the largest port in the country, major industry that is expanding, a growing tourist economy  – the two AONB’s alone are worth £300m annually-  and yet we are being told that  if you want this highway  (its not even a motorway) you must pay for it!!  We wouldn’t mind so much if this were government policy across the country, but it isn’t. Of all the current  planned road-building schemes, only the A14  is planned to generate income, ”

“We recognise that Suffolk must be at the table when this subject is being discussed  if we are going to put the point across successfully. This is why we were unable to support a Labour motion to withdraw the £1m funding SCC’s putting towards this major project. A million pounds is a huge amount of money but Suffolk County Council  must be at the forefront of every discussion – putting the case for the people and industry of Suffolk to have its say and obtain a fair deal.

Investment in major infrastructure projects for East Anglia are long overdue which is why we are insisting  that rail links between Felixstowe to Cambridge and beyond  must also be looked at. Suffolk is an important player in the UK’s recovery and deserves investment without taxation,” said Cllr Wood.

Lib Dem spokesperson for Transport , Caroline Page, who seconded the amendment, adds ” years of underinvestment in Suffolk railways has left us with rail services from Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough which fall well short of what is required for effective day-to-day operation. In its current state the rail system is unable to provide a viable  alternative to a tolled A14.  This makes any decision to toll doubly unfair, because there isn’t the capacity for a reliable public transport alternative. ”


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