My past and current campaigns for improvements to the A12 and A120
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.
On the A12, during the previous Parliament, I 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. A clean-up is underway and things are changing to keep the litter under control.
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 East of Colchester is 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 scheme is at the final stages of design and I will continue to push for this to start being built as soon as possible (they said “later this year” last month).
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 various route options are out to consultation (see here). This demonstrates that a Conservative Government and Conservative Essex County Council see the desperate need for infrastructure improvements in North Essex, and are delivering.
This new road will bring economic growth, which is most welcome. It will also bring with it developments and much needed new housing. Residents both east and west of Colchester are understandably concerned about these proposals. I have covered these ‘Garden Settlements’ in a separate article, giving my views and detailing my recent efforts to ensure local residents’ voices are heard on these plans.