Meeting of minds to discuss the A14

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COUNCIL leaders, government officials and transport experts have met to discuss plans for the future of the A14.

The A14 summit organised by Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, was a chance to discuss how improvement of the road could help boost economic growth in the area.

About 100 people attended the meeting at Kettering Conference Centre yesterday where speakers gave their views on how the county council could attract further investment for the road’s development.

County council leader Jim Harker said: “Northamptonshire recognises the importance of the A14 to this county.

“Conditions along the road have continued to deteriorate and we have a situation where it is no longer fit for purpose.

“Recently there have been a number of announcements regarding improvements to the road and this is welcomed.

“However, these proposals look at the A14 in isolation rather than factoring in connector routes in the region.

“We want to improve the junctions, which become congested when the A14 is busy. We also want to extend traffic warning systems to connecting roads, so people can avoid the A14 if necessary.”

As part of his autumn pre-budget statement, Chancellor George Osborne announced that £260m would be spent on road improvements, including widening the A14 at Kettering from Junction 7 to 9.

The funding came after years of delays and disappointment.

Tony Hourigan is in charge of strategic development at county distribution firm Wincanton. He said: “The significance of the A14 to the freight industry is absolutely huge.

“The A14 was designed in the 1970s and its junctions are poor. As soon as any incident happens the A14 shuts, so there has to be three lanes introduced.

“The road doesn’t support the logistics industry – there is no secure lorry parking and a lack of service stations.”

The council will now develop a plan to present its case to potential investors.