Somerset business leaders back call for A303 upgrade
INFLUENTIAL business leaders are backing calls to dual the A303 through Somerset and Dorset.
This week Graham Cole, regional director of the CBI South West and chairman of AgustaWestland, has supported the campaign championed by the Blackmore Vale's sister publication the Western Gazette.
In October the Western Gazette launched its Dual It! campaign in a bid to save lives and bolster the local economy by lobbying the Government to fund multimillion pound improvements along the busy route.
The A303 carries 21,000 motorists through Somerset and Dorset every day.
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Each week more than 100,000 trips will be made by commuters, tourists and businesses.
But statistically there will be an accident every six days on the road between the two counties.
There is also a strong business case for upgrading the road. It is estimated that upgrading could create more than 20,000 jobs and be worth between £11 billion and £13 billion to the economy by unlocking a 3.2 per cent uplift in the South West's economic output.
Mr Cole, whose company AgustaWestland is south Somerset's biggest employer with 3,500 workers, said: "From the CBI point of view this is something that has been discussed for a long time. It takes a very long time to get through Somerset via the A303 yet it is almost unavoidable.
"We look at the major routes into the South West which the A303 is certainly one. However, at places it simply can't cope with the level of traffic and that then affects everything from tourism to commuting.
"You go to other places around the country and you see they have a vastly superior road network.
"We need to make it easier for ourselves."
Also adding the weight to the campaign is Somerset Chamber of Trade and Commerce chief executive Rupert Cox.
Mr Cox said: "Nowhere else in Europe, or even the growing economies of the world would this level of underinvestment in infrastructure be tolerated.
"Come on Government, finish the job that was started many moons ago – complete the dualling of the A303 and give the Somerset economy the opportunity to grow for all our benefits."
The Western Gazette's campaign has already been supported by local MPs David Laws and David Heath, and South West MEP Sir Graham Watson.
Yeovil Town technical coach Darren Way has also backed the Gazette's calls to make the road safer.
Way suffered a career-ending injury when he was involved in car crash just yards from the A303 on the Cartgate link road.
More than 1,000 readers have already pledged their support for the campaign by signing a petition which will be delivered to the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Secretary for Transport Patrick McLoughlin in the new year.
Petitions are located in a number of shops along the route as well as coupons in the paper and online at www.thisissomerset.co.uk/a303