TOP Thurrock businesses and local MPs are joining with Thurrock Council in trying to impress government of the importance of fully funding A13 improvements to unlock the borough’s full growth potential.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr John Kent and South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) chair Peter Jones have jointly signed a letter to Baroness Susan Kramer, Minister of State, at the Department of Transport.
In addition, Ian Cochrane, Managing Director at Thames Oilport/Vopak, has sent in a similar letter, as has the General Manager of DP World, Charles Meaby, the Essex Chamber of Commerce, intu Lakeside, and Perry Glading, chair of the Thurrock Business Board has also written in support.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price has informed the council that both she and Stephen Metcalfe, the South Basildon and East Thurrock MP, will “will write separately to Michael Fallon”, the Minister for Business and Enterprise and Minister of State for Energy.
Speaking on Monday (23 June), Cllr Kent said: “Government can be in no doubt that Thurrock holds the key to growth throughout the south east and that growth needs the improvements we’re all asking for on the A13 to reach its full potential.”
The government is expected to announce massive infrastructure funding initiatives in the coming few weeks – money that will be channelled through LEPs.
Thurrock Council and its partners across south Essex have put together a wide-ranging funding bid through the partnership – £196 million as part of the LEP’s £1.2 billion growth bid.
The letter states: “The Thames Gateway is both a national growth and regeneration priority for the Government and a number one priority for the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP).”
It highlights Thurrock’s “growth agenda of huge importance to the local, regional and national economy, potentially delivering 26,000 jobs”.
However, the letter explains: “The current capacity of the A13 is holding back this growth and ambition, hampering business productivity today and potentially constraining investment and jobs into the future.
“As you know, the A13 connects the new London Gateway port and logistics park and the 400 acre Thames Enterprise Park to the M25 and London. It is also a vital link between growth in Basildon and along Thames Gateway South Essex.
“Businesses and local authorities across Thurrock and Thames Gateway back the widening scheme and our call through the Growth Deal process for the Government to make a firm commitment to the £80m of funding towards it which would create certainty and confidence for potential investors.”
Mr Jones added: “The SE LEP area – Essex, Thurrock, Southend, Kent, Medway and East Sussex – is the dynamo of the country’s new income-generating and job-creating engine, and investing in south Essex infrastructure, and especially the A13, will start that dynamo turning.”
A spokesman for the London Gateway (DP World) port, said: “We are ready to contribute significant funds to the widening of the A13, which is vital if we want to see the full potential growth of south Essex.”
And Cllr Kent said: “All the Thames Gateway South Essex partners – Basildon, Rochford, Castle Point, Southend and Essex – have worked incredibly hard with us in Thurrock to create what I believe is an unassailable argument.
“I’m expecting the support shown by local businesses and the two MPs today will be the icing on the cake, persuading the government that investing in south Essex and Thurrock in particular is not only the sensible thing to do for the country as a whole, but that it is the only thing to do.
“Finally, I’d like to thank each and every one of those businesses and individuals who have joined with us to support this bid.”