It’s great to be able to share the truly excellent news that the Chancellor has now approved a £218m funding package to complete Chelmsford’s second railway station at Beaulieu Park and a North East Bypass connecting the A12 to the A131. Once completed this will mean fewer vehicles travelling into Chelmsford which will alleviate pressure at the Army and Navy, along White Hart Lane and at other junctions.
When the station was first considered it was a for a simple two platform design. However, this would have added to congestion on the main train line. The new station will therefore provide a passing loop so that fast trains will be able to overtake stopping services. This will mean more trains will be able to use the entire Great Eastern Main Line network.
Another priority is the urgent need to find a long-term solution to the Army and Navy junction. I am extremely concerned that the flyover has had to be shut indefinitely. Safety must come first, the damage was due to the extreme hot weather in July. This meant that the metal expanded, which pressed the structure outwards because it is built on a curve.
I helped set up the Army and Navy Task Force last October. It is a cross party group bringing together engineering and highways experts and local government representatives. Before any new scheme can be built a robust process of design, environmental and other assessments and a public consultation is needed. The first stages of this process are already completed. Eight potential options have been shortlisted and engineers are already undertaking detailed work. Given the latest situation the work on a long-term replacement is being accelerated with support from the Department of Transport. This is extremely good news. Detailed meetings have been taking place and a further update is due before the end of August. However, a new structure will take time to complete the design and construct.
In the interim, engineers are examining whether the original flyover can be repaired and used until an agreed long-term solution is in place. In addition, Essex County Council have urgently commissioned a review of possible mitigation actions in order to reduce congestion at the junction. This review will be feeding back its initial conclusions as soon as possible in order to implement recommendations by the start of the new school year.
You many have noticed more police around the City. I have been campaigning for extra police in Chelmsford since day one as your MP and even before. We now have a new Chelmsford City Centre Police team whom I joined for a patrol along with our Police Commissioner, Roger Hirst. Our team has four dedicated Constables and one Sergeant working closely with teams covering Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers as well as the City Council safer community officers. This is in addition to the local response police teams across the area.
Many members of the public stopped to talk to us about the increase in the number of people begging and rough sleeping over the past couple of months. I am very concerned that more people may be coming to Chelmsford from outside the area. In many cases begging is linked to drug taking. This is very worrying as we also know that County Lines drugs gangs can be extremely violent. Please do think twice before giving money to people on the streets and consider giving instead to one of the many charities helping the homeless locally.
I have also used the break in Westminster to catch up with the excellent staff at Broomfield Hospital, especially the team at the A&E emergency village. Readers may remember that I fought to keep our A&E services and it is very good to see the extra resources and financing that are going into the front line. Many new nurse recruits are joining the hospital staff and there is great excitement that the plans to increase specialist services across Broomfield, Basildon and Southend hospitals are now moving ahead.
As ever, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me at Vicky.Ford.MP@Parliament.UK or follow my page on Facebook for updates.