The Secretary of State for Transport today formally responded to the A14 petition that Therese presented to Parliament lastmonth calling on the Government to withdraw plans for tolling. Last Wednesday the Government confirmed that the tolling element of the A14 upgrade would be droppped and the response to the petition outlines that they have listened to residents concerns. Please see below for the formal response:
A14 Road Improvement and Financing:
The Petition of the people of Suffolk Coastal and the wider Suffolk area,
Declares that the planned road improvements on the A14, a key route connecting the Midlands with the UK's leading container port of Felixstowe and designated as a Trans-European Transport Network, will be welcomed by most users of the A14, particularly by residents in Cambridgeshire, and is expected to reduce congestion on this key route for commuters and businesses alike; further declares that this is one of several major road improvements proposed by Her Majesty's Government though notes that this is the only road improvement scheme proposed to be partially financed by a toll; further declares the concerns of the petitioners that this will have a detrimental effect on the economy of Suffolk.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to remove the planned requirement to toll vehicles on the A14.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Dr Thérèse Coffey , Official Report, 8 November 2013; Vol. 570, c. 608.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:
The Highways Agency recognises the vital link of the A14 in the Trans-European Network and to the national and local economy. In developing the proposals for A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme the Government considered tolling as an option. A recent public consultation exercise was undertaken to consider the route options for the A14 scheme and the impact of proposals to introduce road-user tolls on part of the route.
The Government have listened to the concerns of business leaders and communities in the region centring around the impact of tolling on local competitiveness and congestion on less-suitable un-tolled alternative routes, and has decided not to introduce tolls on the A14.
The Highways Agency are currently producing a consultation report which will be published later this month on:
The views received from this consultation will then be used to support the further development of the scheme design with the next stage being the publication of a Preferred Route Announcement early next year.
In a statement to Parliament today, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will announce that the tolling element of the A14upgrade will now not go-ahead. This is a fantastic victory for Therese's campaign.
Reacting to the news, Therese said: "This decision is great news for Suffolk and it shows that the Government have listened carefully to our concerns. I am pleased to have led the campaign with Suffolk MPs, the Chamber of Commerce, businesses & our Councils. By joining forces we have got a great result".
"In meetings with the Prime Minister and Chancellor we made the strong case that a toll would be detrimental to the Suffolk economy, putting at risk jobs and investment and I'm delighted our message got across."
She added: "Thank you to everyone who added their name to the petition signed by 2,292 people, that I presented to Parliament last month. This strength of feeling was key in showing Minister's that local people weren't prepared to accept the toll."
Therese today led a delegation including fellow Suffolk MPs, David Ruffley & Peter Aldous, representatives of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, businesses and County Councillor, Graham Newman to meet the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, to discuss the proposed A14 toll.
Therese said: "Following our meeting with the Prime Minister and Chancellor this was another opportunity to outline our strong case to cancel the tolling element of the A14 upgrade. It was important that businesses and the County Council were able to get across their views that the toll would have an economically detrimental effect on Suffolk which would be bad for jobs and investment."
Therese added: "We were also able to convey our frustration that the Highways Agency blankly refused to hold a consultation in Suffolk – which I am sure will be followed up on. It was a very useful meeting and the Secretary of State was in listening mode. I hope that by continuing to press the case we can get a change of mind"
Tomorrow afternoon Therese is leading a delegation, including fellow Suffolk MPs, representatives of the Suffolk Chamber ofCommerce and businesses to meet the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP to discuss the A14 toll.
This follows meetings that Suffolk MPs have held with the Prime Minister & the Chancellor as well as the 2,373 signature petition that Therese presented to Parliament calling on the Government to remove the toll.
Therese said: "Following our meeting with the Prime Minister and Chancellor I am pleased to have the opportunity to outline our strong case to cancel the tolling element of the A14 upgrade to the Transport Secretary. I am delighted that that Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and representatives from local businesses including the Port of Felixstowe will be joining me and my fellow Suffolk MPs and I hope that together we can get a change of mind".
Photo: Therese and Graham Newman launch petition against the A14 Toll.
Suffolk MPs today met the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss the A14 improvement scheme and the proposed toll, following their meeting with the Prime Minister last month.
Whilst pressing the need for the essential improvements, MPs outlined wide concerns from businesses and residents that the A14 should not be the only scheme to be singled out for a toll.
Therese said: "It was another very useful meeting and we put across a strong case to the Chancellor. Suffolk MPs are united in continuing to press the case for the toll to be removed."
Therese added: "The petition I presented to Parliament last week shows the strength of feeling amongst local amongst residents and businesses who feel the toll is a tax on their success. We will continue to do all we can to stop this."
Therese presented the A14 petition calling on the Government to withdraw plans for a toll in the House of Commons today. The petition was signed by 2,292 local residents concerned about the proposals. This follows the meeting Suffolk MP's had with the Prime Minister recently to put across the strong feelings of residents and businesses who feel the toll is a tax on their success.
Therese said: "I was delighted to present the petition to Parliament today on behalf of Suffolk residents. Thank you to all those who signed it is a really important part of the campaign. We all know we need improvements on the A14 but the upgrade should not be singled out as the only road improvement scheme to have a toll. I hope that by continuing to press the case we can get a change of mind."
Suffolk MPs today met the Prime Minister to discuss the A14 improvement scheme.
Six of the seven County MPs attended including Therese, Ben Gummer, Peter Aldous, David Ruffley, Tim Yeo and Matt Hancock (Dan Poulter had Ministerial duties in the Chamber).
Whilst pressing the need for the essential improvements, MPs outlined wide concerns from businesses and residents that the A14 should be improved but should not be the only scheme to be singled out for a toll, while the existing A14 road is effectively removed.
Therese said: "It was a very constructive meeting with all MPs contributing. The Prime Minister listened intently to our concerns and said he would discuss the matter further with the Chancellor. He did not make any promises but we would not expect that at this time."
She added: "We put across a strong case on behalf of Suffolk residents and businesses. We will continue to do so with the Secretary of State for Transport, the Treasury and the Highways Agency."
Therese is encouraging people to continue to send her their petitions against the proposed A14 toll, which she will present toParliament on the 8th November. She has had an excellent response so far with hundreds of responses coming in since it was launched last month.
Therese said: "I intend to present the petition to Parliament on the same day as our next vote on the EU referendum Bill so if you haven't yet returned it you still have a chance to do so. I know the consultation has now closed but I hope with enough public support we can try to get this toll cancelled".
Therese added: "I am due to meet the Prime Minister soon to continue to press the case on behalf of businesses and residents in Suffolk that we should not be the only new road improvement scheme to be singled out for a toll"
You can download a copy of Therese's petition at (http://www.theresecoffeymp.com/a14/) and send it back freepost.
Today in Parliament, Therese led a debate on the A14, pressing the case to the new Roads Minister, Robert Goodwill MP, that the upgrade shouldn't be the only improvement scheme to be singled out for a toll.
She was supported in the debate by other Suffolk MPs Ben Gummer, Peter Aldous and David Ruffley.
Therese said: "The Government has singled out through users of the A14 for tolling while no other major road improvement scheme planned in the next 10 years is to be tolled. This effectively amounts to a tax on businesses in East Anglia which is bad news for one of the leading growth areas for UK PLC. While I am convinced that the Port of Felixstowe will continue to invest to compete, putting a toll on one of its key routes is a real risk. This will also have an impact on wider industry - which is why the business community has come out against this."
Therese added: "Users already feel they pay their share and don't want to be singled out for a toll while other improvement schemes continue to be fully financed. Singling out the A14 seems arbitrary and somewhat unfair. "
Therese added: "The Minister committed to having regular meetings with the freight industry and the Transport Secretary has already promised a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and local MPs. I am also pushing for a meeting with the Prime Minister. The consultation on the A14 has now closed but the campaign continues."
Therese has had hundreds of responses back to her petition that she will present in Parliament but is still encouraging people to send their petitions in. You can download a copy of the petition from (http://www.theresecoffeymp.com/a14/) and send it back freepost. With sufficient public support she hopes to get the toll removed.
Therese is continuing her campaign to prevent a toll on the upgraded A14 by securing a debate in Parliament next weekwhereshe and other MP's will press the case to the Minister.
Therese said: "I am delighted I was successful in my application to secure a debate in Parliament, where I will re-iterate the reasons to the Minister why we should not be singled out for a toll. The proposed toll shouldn't be a tax on success and I don't want it to have a detrimental effect on our local businesses and economy"
Therese added: "It is also important that as many people as possible give their views to the Highways Agency in the consultation which runs until 13th October, available on their website. I want to also encourage residents to sign my petition that I will present to Parliament. You to download a copy from my website (http://www.theresecoffeymp.com/a14/) and send it back freepost. I hope that with sufficient public we can get the toll removed."
Therese has launched a petition calling on the Government to withdraw plans for a toll on the A14. You can download and signthe petition here.
Therese said: "We all know we need improvements on the A14 and the £1.5bn upgrade is most welcome but it should not be singled out as the only road improvement scheme to have a toll. This shouldn't be a tax on success and I don't want it to have a detrimental effect on our local businesses and economy nor do I want to see Suffolk people having to pay to sort out the problems in Cambridge."
Therese added: "It is also important that as many people as possible give their views to the Highways Agency in the consultation which runs until 13th October. The consultation papers can be accessed here."
A public consultation on the new A14 improvements has been launched today by the Highways Agency. It outlines the proposed route and includes details on the tolling element of the £1.5bn project.
Therese said: "It does seem the Government have listened to the representations that I and others have made so far as the proposed option includes two HGV toll free alternatives, more alternatives for other vehicles and is not 24 hour. However the real concern still remains that the new road shouldn't be singled out as the only part of the Country to face a new toll. The investment in this important stretch of the A14 is very welcome but it shouldn't be a tax on success. I urge Suffolk residents and businesses to respond to the consultation. It is important that as many people as possible give their views to the Highways Agency. "
The consultation will run until Sunday 13 October. The consultation papers can be accessed here.
Parliament: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA,
Call: 0207 219 7164
Emails sent to Dr Coffey as a DEFRA Minister (and not from constituents) will not be processed. For DEFRA, email Dr Coffey via email@example.com