I REGULARLY use the A30 from my home in Ottery St Mary to visit constituents throughout the South West and travelling to and from London. Many of my journeys are delayed because of bottlenecks and tailbacks on the A30/A303 which are due in large part to the single carriageway sections.
I recall my dismay in 2009 when the decision was made to close four miles of the A303 for road works for three months at Chicklade and Mere. Lack of a dual carriageway resulted in me and thousands of other car and lorry drivers having to waste time following detours through miles of narrow country lanes. It was a nightmare which sadly could be repeated if total dualling of the A30 is not completed.
Somerset County Council must be congratulated for taking upon itself the task of gathering together all relevant local authorities, government agencies and business stakeholders to press the Government to approve and finance plans for complete dualling of the A30.
This route through Somerset and Wiltshire is used by an estimated 30,000 vehicles every day and assessments are that total dualling would create a faster alternative route to the M4-M5 which could provide annual economic benefits of over £1-billion to the West Country economy. I need no convincing of the validity of this argument and will do all that I can to persuade the Government to support their proposal.
For decades, there has been a plethora of official reports emphasising the weakness of the South West transport infrastructure. Local authorities are aware of the need for policies to stimulate regional economic growth and that an important key to that end is the improvement of the transport infrastructure.
Despite budget pressures, they are endeavouring to tackle the bottlenecks on South West roads and have found 'kick-start funds' to persuade Government to back their road improvement plans. The Kingskerswell bypass opening the way to Torbay, the Camborne East-West link road and dualling the rest of the A30 in Cornwall are but a few of the many projects they have initiated.
South West local authority efforts to improve the road transport infrastructure are praiseworthy but there is need also to tackle the inadequacies of our South West rail network. The opportunity will arise with the Government Commission which is preparing in 2013 to award the Great Western rail franchise.
The time is right to make clear the passenger and freight requirements necessary to enhance the region's prospects for economic growth.
Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar