MAJOR business leaders and politicians have formed new groups to press the economic case for dualling the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey.

The first meeting of the Business Board took place at County Hall during which the A120 Campaign Champions was established.

Both organisations will try to persuade the Government to include the £550million dualling scheme in its next multi-billion pound road strategy.

They say the scheme will add £2.2billion to the economy, support the creation of up to 20,000 jobs, reduce traffic through local villages and cut accidents.

County Hall infrastructure boss Kevin Bentley said: “For too long this major economic corridor has been unfit for purpose, stifling business growth.

“It is the only single carriageway road in the UK with a major international airport at one end and a major international seaport at the other.

“This cannot be allowed to continue when we have a scheme that will bring a huge economic boost, with up to 20,000 jobs unlocked and £350million in benefit to freight traffic, with safer, faster and more reliable journeys.”

More than 500 businesses have already signed a petition calling for investment and the area’s MPs are behind Essex County Council’s proposals for the new road.

Witham MP Priti Patel said: “We all recognise the huge economic benefits of this scheme to growth and job creation throughout the region and it is vital that the Government listens to the strong case we are putting forward and agrees to fund the dualling of the A120.

“The A120 is a major economic corridor and dualling the road to meet growing demand will reduce congestion, improve safety, be better for the environment and turbo-charge our economy.”

If funding is agreed this autumn, it is hoped construction, which would take three years, could start as soon as 2023.