COUNCIL bosses are continuing to press “urgently” for updates on a long-awaited scheme to upgrade the A120 after leaked documents revealed the Government has halted work on the project.

Councillors say they are “extremely disappointed” by reports work on the scheme has stopped due to Treasury funding pressures.

Last week, the Gazette exclusively revealed the Department for Transport (DfT) was working on a handling plan for informing MPs, councils and the public about the shelving of the project.

Leaked documents revealed a plan to release the news “on or before” July 21, tying in with a now cancelled preferred route announcement for the A120 upgrade.

Plans for the project, which would see the creation of a dual-carriageway link road between Braintree and the A12, were developed by Essex County Council in 2017 and attracted huge investment.

National Highways took over the scheme in 2020 after millions of pounds of council-led investment, pledging to move it forward as one of dozens of ‘pipeline’ roads projects.

County Hall had hoped to see a route run from Galleys Corner at Braintree to the A12 to the south of Kelvedon.

But the documents suggest National Highways did not favour this option and was set to announce a different route prior to the shelving of the scheme.

The DfT has remained tight-lipped on the leak, insisting no decision has been made on the future of the project despite clear assertions to the contrary within their own internal communications.

Dates for both the National Highways preferred route announcement and the Government’s planned public reveal concerning the shelving of the scheme have now passed.

No further comment has been made, despite questions posed by the Gazette.

The DfT says "any updates will be set out in due course".

Lesley Wagland, Essex County Council’s planning boss, said: “We are extremely disappointed to hear reports that the upgrade of the A120 between Braintree and the A12 may now not progress and we are seeking urgent clarification from Government about this.

“However, our current understanding is no decision has yet been made on the future of the project.

“The upgrade of the A120 is vital for the future prosperity and economic growth of the area, and there is a pressing need to increase safety on this key route. Our priority remains the delivery of an upgraded A120 with a new dual carriageway.

“We continue to seek urgent clarification from National Highways and the Government on the current position of the project.”