Greg has written a formal email alongside Amber Rudd and Huw Merriman to the Chairman of Transport for South East (TfSE), urging him to back their bid for the length of the A21 to be dualled between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings.
It comes shortly after Greg emphasised the importance of the project during a one-on-one meeting with TfSE Chairman, Keith Galzier on 12 July at the Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells.
Email in Full
We recently we met with the Roads Minister, Michael Ellis, and the Chief Executive of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan, to discuss future investment in the A21.
We were pleased to hear of a significant investment in this road between now and during the RIS2 period which will improve congestion spots, resilience and, most importantly, increase safety along the route between Pembury and Hastings. Some of this work is already underway, some is in the project design stage and the remainder requires Ministerial sign-off which we have pressed for. This is good news for our constituents and businesses.
However, welcome as this investment is, it will not bring about the major infrastructure changes that our area needs to attract more investment, housing, employment or radically improve the movement of freight. As you know, our ambition is to see the A21 fully dualled. We are in no doubt that this is key to the future long-term prosperity and economic growth of our constituencies and will lift areas of deprivation.
Both Jim and the Minister were clear that to achieve this goal, the BCR score for such a major investment needs to be significant. The BCR can take into account planned housing growth and the creation of jobs and we feel that we have already built a good part of this case in the north Bexhill to Hastings growth corridor, but it is not enough. Evidence that the project would help tackle deprivation will increase the score but it is clear that in order for this ambition to reach RIS2 it will need to be made a priority by the local LEP or in East Sussex’s case – Transport for the South East. The Department for Transport officials who attended the meeting reiterated that this would be absolutely essential.
Whilst TfSE has yet to receive statutory status, which we are fully behind, it was clear at our meeting that the Department for Transport already sees TfSE as a key influencing organisation for south east infrastructure projects. Therefore, our purpose in writing to you is to ask TfSE to confirm its full backing of the proposals for the current planned investment for the A21 in RIS2 and for the opportunity to discuss how TfSE can further support our ambition for dualling of this key route for our constituencies. The Minister made it clear that this support must reach his desk at the earliest opportunity if it has any chance of competing against the many other projects that have been submitted for RIS2.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Amber Huw Greg