Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Update on my terrible road... and where the money goes
I was delighted that the local police were out in force on the A1307 yesterday, and across this part of Cambridgeshire keeping an eye out for dangerous driving. Like many of the rural roads across the region traffic has increased but the infrastructure has not kept up - 10 people have died on a 10 mile stretch of this road in the past two years.
Working with my local MP, local councillors and the community group Access 1307 I have helped campaign for improvements for over 3 years. There have been some achievements this year. New warning signs, roadworks started yesterday at one blackspot, more promised for another - however like most rural road improvements these are piecemeal, require huge lobbying searching after very limited funds. A long term strategy for investment is needed - but the bureaucracy does not help
On Friday I attended a meeting of the Regional Assembly's Europe Panel - looking at the hundreds of millions of pounds that are spent, or could in theory be spent from EU funds in our region. One must remember that this all started as British Taxpayers' money - but the bureaucracy often makes it difficult to align the money to local needs (like roads and infrastructure).
We heard some good news - contributions that will be made towards improving the A14, how a massive co-operative grain store helps British farmers put British food on our plates, progress on a project to get some of those freight lorries off the road an onto the railways, as well as work to help the unemployed retrain BUT we also heard how complex the bidding process can be, how the "match funding" requirement can act as an obstacle, how various projects can not meet certain "criteria" because they involve capital (ie physical) investment. I believe we made some good suggestions for how the funds could be better applied, we asked for evidence of projects that were missing out and much better tracking of the money. There is much more to be done.