Devolution money should be spent on making the A505 safer
I attended the first meeting of the new Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority as one of its members. The Combined Authority is the new body that will work with the Mayor (after he or she is elected in May) to deliver the results of devolution for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The Authority takes powers and money from Whitehall, to run things more locally, and that includes roads and transport.
Devolution offers the chance to bid for further funds for large scale infrastructure programmes. I have written to the acting chair of the Authority to say that we must bid now in the next round of funding talks with government in early 2017 for cash for improving the A505, to make it safer and to ensure that the road can cope in the future with the even greater volumes of traffic that we predict will use the road.
Parish councils have done their best trying to get improvements at dangerous junctions, working with the county councils. Heydon and Thriplow parish councils have put in bids, and I have worked with them in particular. But this is an infrastructure ask way above the pockets of a parish or even a county council. The recent spate of accidents, including one deeply saddening fatality, together with fatal accidents in recent winters, mean this has to be tackled.
I attended a meeting with three of the biggest science clusters in the area and they said their staff put the difficulties of getting to work each day as their main concern. Local people know that even a small accident or hold-up on the A505 means that the road becomes a giant car-park from as far back as Flint Cross through to the Abingtons, just before the A11 junction. The road is already the busiest in the area that the Highways Authority is responsible for. It was designed to take about 16,000 vehicles and is regularly running with 21,000.
We know that growth in the area is not now in the centre of Cambridge, it is here in the south of the county, as the hi-tech and bio-tech science parks grow. The first step would be funding for a major survey to set out what is possible, so people have options in front of them.