Dozens of different councils came together to discuss the future of the A1307 at the inaugural meeting of a new steering group last night (Thursday, January 24).
Held at Linton Village Hall and chaired by the village’s parish council chairman and South Cambridgeshire District Councillor (SCDC) Roger Hickford, the debate covered how the road should develop, cooperation between the councils and safety of the Cambridge to Haverhill route.
South East Cambridgeshire MP Sir Jamies Paice and Euro MP for the Eastern Region Vicky Ford were there, while Haverhill MP Matthew Hancock was represented by Suffolk County Cllr Anne Gower and Souths Cambridgeshire MP and former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was represented by Cllr Stephen Frost.
There were also representative from Cambridgeshire and Suffolk County Councils – including Guy McGregor, who is keen to avoid predestrianising Haverhill High Street – and from SCDC and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, as well as member of every parish council along the A1307 corridor.
Building on a previous meeting betwixt the parish councils, Cllr Hickford sought to discover what meetings the county and parish councils have together and to ensure greater collaboration in the future, with minutes of meetings published.
It was clarified that the A1307 is a key road for the county council, despite confusing listings for it and Haverhill not being a ‘key destination’ for Suffolk.
The hatching of the dual carriageway to make it a single lane the whole way through from Haverhill to the A11 was discussed, making this a 50 miles per hour zone and possibly having average speed checks – something the police opposed.
Having speed barriers installed by Linton Village College was suggested, although the site manager for the school said this was unnecessary and that more trees may be planted as a barrier.
Costs were sought with the suggestion that parish councils may contribute, and this will be looked at for a future meeting of the group – likely to be in July or September.
There was laughter when Cambridgeshire County Council said traffic along the road had decreased since 2007 when it stopped recording data and relied on DFT data instead, as data collected by Access 1307 showed an increase of 19.4 per cent Cambridge bound in the morning rush hour from 2007 to 2012.
“Unless we have the right data we have faith in we can’t make realistic decisions to improve the road and address the capacity issues,” said Sir Jim.
“This shows the feeling we’ve always had that the A1307 has been neglected and not treated as a priority.”
Cllr Hickford added: “We as Linton Parish Council have better data than you cat Cambridgeshire County Council, so what will you do about it?
“Because if you don’t, we will”
Suffolk County Council was slammed for not getting funding for the road from Carisbrooke Developments as part of the planning agreement for the Haverhill Research Park, although councillors admitted they were eager to progress the park and that the cash was not there, with developer Nic Rumsey ‘taking a risk’ creating the science hub at all.
Despite this admission, it was agreed funding should be sought from future developments – with thousands of homes planned for Haverhill under the Vision 2031 expansion – as the A1307 is already over capactiy.
Cllr Hickford said: “If you put slightly more traffic on a road that’s over capacity it doesn’t make a little bit if difficulty it makes a huge difficulty.”
Esther Cornell, of Linton Parish Council and chairman of Access 1307, said: “We are almost in limbo where no-one takes responsibility because Cambridgeshire County Council is over there and Suffolk County Council is over there and we are in the middle”
Sir Jim said the issue of the road being across county boundaries has ‘bedeviled’ progress for 20 years, while Cllr Gower said improvements are ‘high up our agenda in Haverhill’.
Ms Ford said the road ‘cannot take any more - it’s full to capacity’ and that tri-county cooperation is needed for future developments.
“We all want see Haverhill prospering and not just growth of houses but growth of employment and opportunities for people who are already there,” she said.
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (January 31) Echo.