Fenland Council with villages up to 40 miles from A14 says they will still chip in £800,000 towards upgrade

Alan Melton

Alan Melton - Credit: Archant

Its 40 miles from Throckenholt, Tydd St Giles and Gorefield but they- and other Fen towns and villages- were told last night they must pay towards an upgrade of the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge.

Following months of behind the scenes wrangling, Fenland Council leader Alan Melton announced that the ruling Conservative group was now backing an £800,000 contribution to the A14.

“Fenland will greatly benefit from an improved A14,” Mr Melton told councillors last night. “Our contribution will be spread over 25 years with the first payment falling due in 2019/2020.

“This is an interest free loan supported by the treasury and is guaranteed not to increase at any time.”

He said that far from being weighed down or gloomy at the prospects of helping fund the A14, he was the opposite.

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“Never before has a leader of this council been able to make such a positive statement in relation to the infrastructure of Fenland,” he said.

He said his Tory colleagues had swung behind the contribution after hearing that Fenland was not being asked by Cambridgeshire County Council to pay towards the £15m new bridge at Kings Dyke Crossing at Whittlesey to alleviate pressure on some 11,000 vehicles a day which pass through there.

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“Originally we were expected to contribute £1m, which we would have to have had to fund, either by using our reserves or by borrowing over 30 year period and in both instances, paying commercial rates of interest,” he said.

Fenland had also received a boost, he said, following the visit to the region of Transport Minister Stephen Hammond earlier this week.

“For the first time in my local government career, a senior government minister has committed to support the dualling of the A47, complete from Great Yarmouth to the midlands,” said Mr Melton.

“He even, at last, mentioned Wisbech and Guyhirn. The opportunity to connect the north of Fenland with the Peterborough road network and the improved A14 has momentous potential.

“With the imminent Ely southern by-pass, suddenly, investing in Fenland is an attractive proposition.”

Mr Melton also believed the emerging Enterprise Park at Alconbury will provide thousands of jobs “not just for Huntingdonshire but Fenland also.

“A greater super charged economy around Cambridge and Peterborough will have a significant effect on the economic prospects of Fenland. We must not under estimate the potential for our district.”

He said the time was right to “seriously plan” for a by pass for Whittlesey which could unlock multiple opportunities for economic growth.

“It is no good improving Kings Dyke, just to encourage more traffic to travel through Whittlesey town,” he said. “Highway planners have to get real and recognise this without delay. Completion of a new A605 would mean the opportunity for massive business expansion in Whittlesey and March, the expansion of Hostmoor to the western side of the A141, March, could move forward and would provide the much needed roundabout.

“Business parks can be planned at either end of the A605. All of this increasing economic activity will generate a bonus in business rates, of which Fenland Council will retain half – which in turn will fund the expansion in infrastructure.”

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