Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is ramping up its support for campaigns aimed at improving the road, rail and mobile networks in the county.
A recent meeting of its Transport & Infrastructure Group (TIG) heard from two key organisations about the challenges and opportunities facing Suffolk getting a fair share of future government and private sector funding.
Andrew Summers, strategic director of Transport East, the sub-national transport body for the region, outlined the body’s main objectives, which include supporting upgrades to the east/west corridor out of Felixstowe towards the Midlands, such as improving the A14 in Suffolk and sorting out the rail junctions at Haughley and Ely to improve the system’s freight capacity to carry greater volumes of freight.
The meeting also heard from Gareth Elliot, director of policy and communications at Mobile UK, the sector’s trade body representing the four mobile operators.
He spoke about the importance of Suffolk’s businesses and local councils, especially those with planning responsibilities, being better coordinated in informing residents about the benefits and infrastructure requirements to ensure a speedy and comprehensive rollout of 5G technologies.
Steve Britt, (pictured above) interim chair of the TIG, said: “This was a very focussed and useful set of briefings. The group’s members were very engaged and understood the importance that Suffolk Chamber is at the forefront in ensuring that Suffolk’s case is well-made and that we are at the front of the queue for much-needed road, rail, and mobile infrastructure investments.
“Suffolk Chamber has landed some lobbying wins in terms of potential improvements at a number of junctions along the A14, including the Copdock Interchange.
“However, we are stepping up our campaign – with our partners – to deliver an A14 in the county that is truly fit for purpose along the full extent of its route and not just at one or two pinch points. We will, therefore, be actively working with Transport East and others to ensure that the whole of the A14 is improved in the current Roads Investment Strategy.”
In terms of rail upgrades, Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of public affairs and strategic communications, added:“The government’s focus on growth clearly presents an opportunity to revisit the already compelling case to improve the Ely and Haughley Junctions in order to maximise the amount of freight being transferred to rail, without impacting on passenger services.
“We have written to all of the county’s MPs urging them to recapitulate the case for investment in both during the next round of Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline funding as a matter of regional and national urgency.
“Now is the time to step up our county’s infrastructure demands.”
Suffolk Chamber has also written to the Suffolk Growth Programme Board suggesting that it works with the chamber and others to better prepare the county for the rollout of 5G technologies to ensure that Suffolk is not left at the back of the queue in terms of the necessary infrastructure rollout.