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Jo Churchill, the MP for Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, the county’s leading business body, have today (20 February) criticised National Highways for poor communications and a lack of engagement over its repair works to part of the A14, which will involve overnight closures and daytime diversions.

The work will be taking place between Haughley at junction 47a and Tothill at junction 49 between 20 February and the end of March and will involve vehicles having to take a 40-minute diversion during the night time closures.

Jo Churchill and Suffolk Chamber were contacted by National Highways earlier this year with the organisation promising to keep them up-to-date as key stakeholders representing respectively the local and business communities. However, since then National Highways has failed to keep either informed of the changing timescales and mitigation proposals to reduce the impact of the works programme.

Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’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.”

A National Highways briefing sent out on Friday (17 February) listing all their forthcoming regional schemes did not even reference the A14!

“With their poor communications and lack of planning, National Highways risk hurting the prospects and increasing the costs of local businesses. This is not good enough.”

Jo Churchill added: “The potential impact of the proposed diversions on local communities is a cause of major concern to me. 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. 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.”

Jo Churchill and Suffolk Chamber are calling for an urgent meeting with senior National Highways executives to address their concerns.

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Suffolk Chamber

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