POLITICIANS and business leaders have welcomed the £155million investment to widen the A13, unclog the A127 and revamp Southend town centre.

Govenment minister Justine Greening visited the London Gateway superport on Monday, to explain how Government cash would spend the cash.

Speaking at the £1.5billion port in Corringham, the Secretary of State for International Development, said: “This is a massive investment into the South East Local Enterprise Partnership area and hugely important for the UK economy.

“Through this innovative Growth Deal with local business and councils, we’re rebalancing national growth to ensure local businesses can grow and new jobs can supported in the South East and across the country.

“Working with the LEP – MPs, councils and businesses – it’s now down to us all to get these projects delivered.”

A four-and-a-half mile stretch of the A13, between Pitsea and the Orsett Cock, in Thurrock, is to be widened to six lanes, partly to accommodate new traffic from the port.

The Fairglen and Nevendon interchanges and Kent Elms and Bell junctions of the A127 will all be improved in the next six years, to unblock jams and boost the economy.

Southend will get a facelift, with £6.7million to flatten derelict office blocks blighting Victoria Avenue and £7million to improve transport in the town centre.

Ron Woodley, leader of Southend Council said: “I am delighted the funding announced will see more than £50million of growth funding coming into Southend over the next six years.”

Town clerk Rob Tinlin said: “This is further demonstration from Government that Southend is a town and a council that delivers.”

John Kent, leader of Thurrock Council, described the confirmation the A13 is to be widened as “good news for the economic future of Thurrock and South Essex”.

He added: “Major projects such as the new London Gateway port, expansion at the Port of Tilbury and Thames Enterprise Park are contributing to economic recovery and delivering jobs for our people. An enhanced A13 will help us deliver our objective of 26,000 new jobs and 18,000 new homes in Thurrock.” Junctions in Basildon will also be tweaked to help prevent congestion.

Phil Turner, the leader of Basildon Council added: “It is fantastic news Basildon and the local area will benefit from this investment. We lobbied the government hard to ensure Basildon and its residents got a share of this funding, which will improve the local transport system.”