From majors to minors, our road network needs improving in North Essex. I welcome the successes of some of my campaigns but there is still much more to do.
Roads play a key role in driving economic growth. Major road upgrades and strategies to fix bottlenecks can unlock the potential of our rural communities. But public concern understandably extends further than seeing these opportunities unlocked. It is the problems commuters encounter every day that I am acutely aware need addressing. Safety at dangerous junctions, potholes, that are in need of repair, apprpriate parking and the maintenance of verges. These all affect motorists on a daily basis and there is rightly an expectation that these are addressed by the local authorities. I will always raise the cases brought to me with the relevant council to try and secure the improvements you want. I have also worked consistently on securing improvements to the A120 and A12, lobbying Ministers and Highways England over an abundance of issues which I detail below.
I campaign constantly for improvements to key infrastructure in North Essex. The A12 is one of the key economic growth drivers in the area, and as it has become more congested, it is holding back job creation and prosperity.
Colchester has grown, and populations nearer the coast have increased. Nobody doubts it: the A12 is not fit for purpose. Ask anyone who has to drive to and from work every day. Frequent traffic jams and delayed journeys. The road simply cannot cope with the numbers of cars and HGVs. One minor incident, and the whole road grinds to a halt. I have campaigned to have the road upgraded for two decades. My campaign persuaded Essex County Council to hold an inquiry into the A12 (A12 Report). At last, the Government has announced the A12 is finally going to be made up of two- to three-lane dual carriage way from Chelmsford to Marks Tey. This bottleneck has caused a lot of misery on the road and these changes will improve things significantly. But more will need to be done, particularly as we get more homes in the area. I will continue to campaign for A12 improvements and to fix the worst pinch points which are causing these problems.
Sir Bernard at the A12 and A120 upgrade launch in Parliament
On the A12 I have also worked with a local resident to have litter along the highway cleaned up. This may seem less important, but roads are no excuse to allow rubbish to litter the environment. I am glad to report I got commitments from the Colchester Borough Council and a clean-up was carried out. But if you see more roadside little please do let me know!
The A120 is just as important for jobs and prosperity as the A12, and the A120 takes up even more of my time.
The A120 West of Colchester is at a virtual standstill every morning and evening. This two-way single carriage way between Braintree to Marks Tey is totally inadequate. It has needed a new dual carriage way for years. This is the major road connecting the international gateway of Harwich with a major London airport (Stansted), and to the Midlands and beyond. At last, a new road is back on the agenda, and should be included in the next roads programme. The Conservative Government and Conservative Essex County Council see the desperate need for infrastructure improvements in North Essex and are delivering at last. This new road will bring economic growth and will ease congestion, which is most welcome for those commuters who know the pains of queueing at the Marks Tey roundabout where the A12 and A120 merge.
A120 East of Colchester: Dualling and Resurfacing
The A120 East of Colchester out to Harwich is in dire need of upgrading and repairs. This is why I am supporting a campaign to dual the road. It is an ambitious campaign but ask anyone who has been stuck behind slow-moving lorries and not felt confident or safe enough to try overtaking, they will know how helpful a second lane would be.
In the short term there can be no doubt the road is in urgent need of resurfacing. I have successfully lobbied the Roads Minister and received assurances that the Government understands just how desperate the need is for repairs and a new road surface. These will be undertaken over the coming months and years, and I will continue to lobby for more funds to improve the road over the coming years.
Sir Bernard shows representatives of Highways England the need for repairs on the A120 to Harwich
East of Colchester link road
I am pleased that the campaign to secure money for a link road between the A133 and the A12 has been a success. I have lobbied on this with my Parliamentary colleagues in North Essex and the local Conservative County Council. The Government has now pledged £99 million pounds for the road to be built. This will ease congestion on the way in to Colchester and improve the economic productivity of the entire area. This is another welcome sign that the Government recognises the potential of Colchester and the surrounding area.
Sir Bernard at the site of the proposed A133-A120 link road
The Hare Green Roundabout
The A120 East of Colchester was one of the most dangerous stretches of roads in the county. The junctions between the Bentleys and Weeley have seen a series of fatal accidents. It has been a long slog but, after many years of campaigning, we got the average speed cameras installed and a 50mph speed limit. This has significantly cut the number of incidents. But the real victory was persuading the Roads Minister to instruct the Highways Agency to build the proposed new roundabout. This will finally make this stretch of road safe. Local road users from the Bentleys, the Bromleys and the surrounding area will feel much safer every time they travel to and from Colchester and Harwich. The roundabout is finally built and there is no doubt lives have been saved. A big congratulations to all the local campaigners who worked on this with me for doing such a tremendous job.
Sir Bernard at the new roundabout he lobbied for to address major safety issues
Local roads: Pot holes, signage, hedgerows and verges
I have lost count of the number or time I have passed on reports of potholes, drainage issues and pavements requiring repair. While this is a matter for your local Council, I have always been happy to send these on asking that works be undertaken where possible. Afterall, a damaged pavement can cause a fall or limit accessibility, a pothole can ruin your tyre, and blocked drains can cause unsafe driving surfaces.
Sometimes roads need better signage or verges need trimming back. Whatever the issue, I will always be happy to ask that your local Council take these complaints up.