Since Malcolm posted The bottom of the barrel earlier today, he has had a sense of unease.
Let’s consider a couple of the road schemes, as itemised by page 11 of today’s Times:
£20m investment to reduce congestion, improve junctions and increase resilience.
This was the one that gave Malcolm a faint sniff of bacon being grilled.
It amounts to sorting out the link from Cambridge (the top end of the M11) to the A1(M). Yes, it should have been done a while back, probably as soon as the John Major Memorial Motorway (curiously convenient for Major’s home at Great Stukeley) between Alconbury and Peterborough was conceived:
IMPROVING the A14 was yesterday (Tuesday) named a Government priority by the Chancellor – with £20million for “immediate improvements” and a report on the road’s future by early 2012.
Chancellor George Osborne, presenting his Autumn Statement in Parliament, said money would be released for safety work and announced a study to find a long-term solution for the road.
The immediate funding will pay for junction upgrades at the Girton and Spittals interchanges and additional signage for drivers, while an all-options engagement programme, labelled ‘The A14 Challenge’, will give the public, businesses and local authorities their say.
The study will examine the potential of the previously-scrapped Fen Ditton to Ellington upgrade, assess other methods of reducing congestion – by improving freight alternatives and public transport – and the options for financing the project, possibly through a toll road.
That looks like a bit of bunce for two MPs: Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative, Huntingdon) and Shailesh Vara (Conservative, NW Cambridgeshire). Assuming the LibDem vote collapses (almost a given), and doesn’t go disproportionately Tory (as if), Vara could just about be in difficulties at the next General Election — especially if UKIP continues to make inroads into Tory core-support. So, Djanogly (who hasn’t had the happiest of relations with his constituency association) and Vara (small fluff over expenses) have both got feathers to stick in their caps, while all it has cost is a bit of tarmac and a lot of consultant fees.
None too far distance we have a bigger-ticket item:
A14 Kettering Bypass
£110m for widening between Junctions 7 and 9.
The Tory MP for Kettering is Philip Hollobone. The boundary review would make the constituency co-terminous with the borough. In 1995-99 and 2001-3 Labour had political control of Kettering council. Hollobone’s seat therefore becomes more marginal.
That’s as far as Malcolm has reached in looking at the political implications of these projects. A quick flick of some of the others — Nine Elms (Tory Wandsworth) gets a whiff of a link to the Northern Line tube, the Oxford-Bedford rail link (restoring, in part, the old Varsity line, largely across Tory constituencies) — also has overtones of a partisan timbre.
Doubtless others will take up the chase.