Campaign to improve A1307 advances

Matthew Hancock MP chaired the meeting as he targets dualling of the A1307
Matthew Hancock MP chaired the meeting as he targets dualling of the A1307

The campaign to improve the A1307 has gathered momentum after an MP hosted a packed public meeting last Friday (March 21).

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock called the meeting at the New Croft, which he chaired a panel consisting of Cambridgeshire County and South Cambridgeshire District Cllr (SCDC) Roger Hickford, fellow county Cllr Ian Bates, cabinet member for growth and planning, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for roads and transport Graham Newman and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairman Graham Nix.

Mr Hancock’s stated aim is to dual the A1307 from Haverhill to the A11 at Fourwentways, and called the meeting to hear the views of Haverhill residents and also of Cambridgeshire villagers along the A1307 corridor.

Cllr Hickford has called for a separate dual carriageway to run from Horseheath to Fourwentways on a similar path to the old Roman road to bypass Linton.

The £500 million released to improve transport links to Cambridge as part of the ‘city deal’ is likely to focus on the A1307 from Fourwentways to Cambridge.

“Haverhill is a growing town and with growth must come infrastructure – when you look at a map of this part of England and plot towns with dual carriageways there’s a great big hoop with the A14, A12, A11 and Braintree, and in the middle of that is Haverhill,” said the skills minister.

“For many years part of the problem has been that Haverhill is where Suffolk ends and Cambridgeshire begins, but these sort of bureaucratic boundaries shouldn’t get in the way of planning decent infrastructure for growing towns.”

Cllr Hickford said a dual carriageway must take priority over a railway, and Mr Nix said that although the LEP is prepared to help Haverhill – such as providing £2 million for the research park – it and the New Anglia LEP would not have enough to fund dualling entirely.

Carisbrooke Investments director Nic Rumsey previously said dualling would cost between £2.6 million and £3.2m per kilometre.

One member of the public said the argument for road upgrades should be taken straight to central Government.

“I’ve used the A1307 since 1986 and if you’re not careful we’ll have a dead town,” he said.

“No-one comes here but by Christ if Bury or Ipswich want it they get it, though Haverhill gets nothing.”

Mr Hancock said a solid case must be compiled before approaching Parliament, and Cllr Hickford said that much progress has been made in the last year since the inception of his A1307 steering group.

Cllr Bates said that a traffic survey looking at traffic that uses the A1307 and where it goes is being done in June/July, with the results expected in August.

Another man said Haverhill would become like the Somerset levels with continued growth without infrastructure, and that the A1307 had not been improved since 1932.

Linton Parish Council chairman Enid Bald said: “The villages between Haverhill and Cambridge are paying the price for your success. Haverhill traffic needs somewhere to access the M11 and A14.”

Haverhill mayor Roger André said: “Suggestions to prevent growth in Haverhill are in vein – people want to live in Haverhill and people want to work in Haverhill.

“I believe the prosperity of Haverhill relies on our growth, which will occur.”

Suffolk County Cllr Julian Flood called for the A1307 to become a ‘biotech highway’, and said he heard from a woman in Saffron Walden who would relocate to Haverhill if there were improved roads.

There was unanimous support to keep working towards solving the problem, which Mr Hancock said he will work towards and call more meetings to that end.

Mr Nix said the Cambridge LEP did not see Haverhill as ‘one way traffic’, and Cllr Hickford said although all opinions will be considered he favours a new road.

“I think there’s enough vigour and power to put a case for something definite.”

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (April 3) Echo.