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County council leader Martin Curtis rounds on critics of £25m A14 upgrade contribution who he says ignore the facts

PUBLISHED: 13:39 14 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:57 15 July 2013

Cllr Martin Curtis.

Cllr Martin Curtis.

Archant

ON the eve of his first critical test as county council leader, Martin Curtis has claimed many opponents of the £25million pledged for the A14 upgrade have ignored the facts.

Cllr Martin Curtis.Cllr Martin Curtis.

And he also said other initiatives in the pipeline could see Cambridgeshire competing with the likes of “Boston, San Francisco and Bangalore”.

Cllr Curtis predicted the debate about the A14 at full council on Tuesday “is likely to be the one that creates the headlines.

“For that reason it is important that people see all of the facts, instead of the select few that generate headlines.”

The county council is being challenged by UKIP over the £25million but Cllr Curtis said people should know the facts “which those who are opposing our contribution will not tell you.”

He said the A14 upgrade will save lives “and tolling will generate about £300m to the cost of the scheme. The tolling has been modelled on a £1 contribution for cars and £2 for lorries.

“At that level it will cost more in drivers’ time and petrol costs if they ignore the A14 and choose to rat run.”

He said there will always be a free local alternative to the A14 - and that alternative will be modelled to prevent rat running (i.e. with weight limits)

Cllr Curtis said the council and the wider Cambridgeshire economy “will benefit by far more than the £25m we will be contributing to the upgrade.

“The contribution is spread over 25 years with no interest applied.”

Cllr Curtis said a possible City Deal for Cambridge also now being considered would “in a nutshell give us powers to keep a portion of the taxes generated locally to benefit our communities.

“Initially the City Deal will give us the ability to unlock the massive potential there is in the Greater Cambridge area, potential that is inhibited by the state of the transport infrastructure.

“If we get this sorted, we can compete with the likes of Boston, San Francisco and Bangalore and help both the Cambridgeshire economy and, of course, deliver an increased tax take for the treasury.”

He added: “It is worth saying that in my opinion, the A14 upgrade is a critical part of unlocking the potential of Greater Cambridge.”

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