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Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket MP Jo Churchill slams National Highways’ communication over 16 months of A14 works





An MP has hit out at highways bosses for ‘poor communications and lack of planning’ over 16 months of repair works to the A14.

Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, said some communities had been landlocked due to diversions in place for the work along the stretch of road in Haughley and Tothill, near Stowmarket.

The resurfacing project, between junction 47a and junction 49, began today and will also see new road markings and reflective studs installed.

The stretch of road on the A14, between junction 47a and junction 49, will be resurfaced. Picture: Google Maps
The stretch of road on the A14, between junction 47a and junction 49, will be resurfaced. Picture: Google Maps

Mrs Churchill felt National Highways’ communication had been lacking after the organisation promised to keep key stakeholders, including Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, informed earlier this year.

She said: “With their poor communications and lack of planning, National Highways risks hurting the prospects and increasing the costs of local businesses - this is not good enough."

A National Highways spokesman said they understood living near roadworks was not easy but the diversion route was agreed with local authorities and it had raised awareness of the overnight closures via its website, local media, public information events and resident letters.

Jo Churchill is the MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket. Picture UK Parliament
Jo Churchill is the MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket. Picture UK Parliament

It said it had contacted Mrs Churchill four times dating back to October about survey works, public information events and its start date. It had also sent e-bulletins to county, parish and town councillors.

However, Mrs Churchill said the potential impact of the proposed diversions on communities was a cause of major concern.

“At a recent meeting with Highways, we asked them to look at funding community speedwatch programmes to minimise speeding on roads within the diversion zone," she said.

“They have failed even to give the basic courtesy of responding to correspondence, which outlined ideas put forward by constituents and my office.

“The diversions, coupled with some already ongoing roadworks, has managed to landlock some areas affecting businesses and residents.

“Whilst we all appreciate the works are needed, the methods of communication and planning is of concern and needs to improve swiftly.”

The roadworks will last up to 16 months. Picture: GoogleMaps
The roadworks will last up to 16 months. Picture: GoogleMaps

A recent National Highways briefing from Friday, February 17 which lists the company’s regional projects and schemes missed out the major A14 roadworks.

Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s head of public affairs, said: “The A14 in Suffolk is a corridor of national economic significance.

“It is also a key route to market for the key sectors in the county, including logistics.

“When we met with National Highways we asked to be kept proactively up-to-date with the programme - this has not happened.

“We were also promised information as to how the project’s negative impact on businesses could be mitigated - again, this has not happened.”

Jo Churchill and Suffolk Chamber called for an urgent meeting with National Highways to address their concerns.

National Highways said additional signage on the diversion route will be deployed as well as a plan to deploy a speed camera van at key points on the route.

The spokesman said: "We understand living near a roadworks is not easy, and we appreciate people’s patience as we carry out work to install a contraflow system for our upcoming A14 concrete road reconstruction scheme between Haughley and Tothill.

"Once installed, the contraflow system will allow us to keep the A14 open while we undertake the upgrade, minimising disruption for motorists.

"We are aware that closing a busy road like the A14 is not ideal, and we have carried out an intensive communication and engagement campaign to encourage drivers to stick to the approved diversion route, which have been chosen as it's best suited to handle the flows of traffic experienced on the A14.

"These diversion route will be monitored as we carry out the preparation work. We appreciate that the overnight closures may cause delays and disruption, and we are grateful for people's patience."