Minister urges ‘get road schemes ready’

Transport Secretary  Patrick McLouglin, centre, beside the A11 works with Matthew Hancock and Elizabeth Truss
Transport Secretary Patrick McLouglin, centre, beside the A11 works with Matthew Hancock and Elizabeth Truss
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Local and national government must work together to get road schemes moving, the transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin said in Suffolk.

On Tuesday Mr McLaughlin saw transport problems in Brandon and how A11 dualling work was going between Barton Mills and Thetford.

He said in Brandon he saw the effects of problems on a local road while the A11 is a national strategic route.

He said: “I’m responsible for strategic roads while local authorities are responsible for the local road network but we have to work together.”

He explained Brandon had missed out on ‘pinch point’ funding last year because it had no ‘shovel ready’ scheme.

“I’m keen to get schemes like that up and running through the hurdles they have to go through so they are ready if funding is available,” he said.

He added: “People say East Anglia is very badly served as far as transport is concerned and we’re trying to do something about that.”

Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk’s MP who invited Mr McLaughlin, said: “The work on the A11 shows a commitment to improving roads in West Suffolk. I will keep their feet to the fire to ensure we deliver the A11 on time and after that, look at Brandon.

Elizabeth Truss, Thetford’s MP, said Mr McLaughlin had joined a meeting with Network Rail on problems with Brandon’s new level crossing, which links hers and Mr Hancock’s constituencies.

“I get a lot of complaints from constituents about the hold ups there, just because a crisp bag has blown onto the line” she said.

She said Network Rail had said it was a new type of crossing and that ‘oversensitive’ sensors had been removed.

Of the A11 she said: “This project is on budget and on time and local residents will see a massive difference.”

But she said that with the A11 opening up access to Thetford, the town should look at road improvements, including better signs and more parking.

Forest Heath District Council leader James Waters was pleased Mr McLaughlin had seen Brandon.

“Businesses in Brandon have the willingness to help themselves but they need a helping hand from the district, county and the minister,” he said.

Rowland Potter, assistant project manager for the Highways Agency, said parts of the new carriageway would start being using in the coming months to allow work on the existing carriageway.

He said they had tried to mitigate the impact of closing Fiveways Roundabout for three weekends in October.

“Without the closures it could have been up to six weeks of interruptions at that roundabout,” he said.