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Article for the News & Crier

16th July 2013

At the end of last month the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered the Spending Round for 2015/16. When this Government came into office it had to address one of the biggest economic crises since the Second World War. While it is never straightforward, Britain is moving out of intensive care – from rescue to recovery. This Spending Round set out how the country will secure that recovery.

It showed how the Government is simultaneously proposing to cut Whitehall spending but at the same increase investment in infrastructure. Having been at the forefront of the campaign to upgrade the A14 for over a decade I certainly welcomed the announcement that the upgrade of the A14 is a priority project for this government. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced the Government’s support for the A14 upgrade by committing government funding towards the £1.5billion project describing it as a ‘scheme of strategic national importance’. The region, including Local Authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership is also expected to contribute up to £100million within the overall figure. Local MPs, Councils, business leaders and the Local Enterprise Partnership have all put a great deal of work into leading a strong campaign for a better A14 and I am pleased to see a successful outcome of that sustained effort.

The construction of the extension to the road is now intended to begin in 2016, two years earlier than the originally envisaged start date of 2018. The Department for Transport will now move forwards to the planning stage and the appointment of a developer. Further details of the proposed tolling scheme, the suggested route and a timetable of the public consultation will follow soon.

The scheme is excellent news for the people of Huntingdonshire and for the economic prospects of the entire Eastern region. The Chief Secretary himself acknowledged this when he stated that it would unlock jobs and growth in the region. If traffic looks bad on the A14 now with it operating virtually at full capacity, this is nothing compared to the disastrous gridlock we shall have when the economy picks up again. That is why we must go ahead and improve this road now and why I have been campaigning for so long on this issue. As such I am very pleased that the Government has now recognised the critical need to upgrade the A14.

In the excitement of the A14 announcement the successful outcome of another initiative that I have been campaigning for has perhaps not received the attention it deserves. In the Spending Round George Osborne also revealed plans to introduce a fairer national funding formula for schools. As News & Crier readers will know from my June column Cambridgeshire is currently the worst funded authority in the country for school funding, an issue that, alongside County head teachers and MPs, I raised at the very highest levels of government with the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and Education Ministers. I am delighted that our campaign for a fairer funding formula has been successful and that not only has the Chancellor agreed to implement a system of fairer funding but also that it will be in place for 2015-16.


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