Reassurance over funding commitment for dual A30
The chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has moved to dispel concerns about funding for the £30 million dualling of the A30 in Cornwall, saying he has "no doubt" that the cash will be forthcoming.
Chris Pomfret was speaking after some members of the Duchy's business community voiced concerns over the security of funding for the scheme to dual a 2.8-mile stretch of the road between Temple and Higher Carblake, near Bodmin.
First mooted 25 years ago, the scheme was among a bank of infrastructure projects to receive fast-tracked government support that the Chancellor revealed in last year's Autumn Statement.
Robert Bailey, tax director at the Truro office of accountants Bishop Fleming, urged firms to take part in an LEP survey on the issue, saying he was concerned that the funding could be withdrawn.
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The survey states that, without economic evidence of the need for the scheme, "it could all be off".
"Now, 25 years after it was first identified as being a vitally needed improvement, it transpires that this funding is not guaranteed at all, but is dependent upon the business case being made yet again," he said.
Mr Bailey said that in the current economic climate the Government was seeking to scale back on its funding commitments, adding: "The transport secretary has made some comments that a lot of the funding depends on the economic cases being presented. We need to help the LEP to make certain that we get it."
Mr Pomfret acknowledged that the wording of the survey had caused some confusion, but he stressed that the funding was not in doubt. He said he had previously met with transport and Treasury ministers who had given a commitment to support the scheme, something that was endorsed by George Osborne in the Autumn Statement.
"With any investment there will be the need for final checks, but we're confident that our business case is robust. What we're asking for is extra business support from businesses in Cornwall which will help to reinforce what we have said.
"I have no doubt that this will go through."
Construction work is set to begin in the 2014/15 financial year and complete the following year.
Cornwall Council has said the new-look road could mean a £117 million economic boost for the Duchy, with holidaymaker numbers and businesses set to be boosted by the prospect of a cut in tailbacks.
Mr Bailey said the scheme was crucial to unlock the full benefits of other investment in Cornwall.
"If you look at where European funding has gone, there has been some massive investment in Falmouth, Camborne and Redruth. They have got new roads going in there, yet there are still blockages on the main road," he said.
"We're a long way west and the road tends to make that journey even harder."
The survey is available at www.cornwallandislesofscilly lep.com/projects/a30-temple-improvements.html.
The deadline for responses is April 15.