After spending the last decade lobbying four Chancellors of the Exchequer and five Transport Secretaries to prioritise funding a solution to the A303 Stonehenge bottleneck, it comes as quite a surprise to stand accused of not doing enough on the issue by the local spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats. I can only assume that as she has only recently moved to Salisbury, Ms Charleston is very unfamiliar with the history of what has occurred and prefers to play party politics than provide an accurate assessment of efforts undertaken.

I have been closely involved with the campaign for tackling A303 congestion since a consortium of local authorities across the South West met in 2012 to start the process to get the route prioritised by the government for investment. I attended a number of meetings in Taunton as part of these efforts as well as lobbying ministers and officials at numerous meetings in London and Wiltshire. I fully backed the move by David Cameron and Nick Clegg to support the tunnel solution when they visited Stonehenge in 2014. More recently, I have met regularly with Highways England and local landowners regarding the proposed scheme as well as made representations to the UNESCO.

Following the Planning Inspectorate recommendation for the A303 project submission to the Secretary of State for Transport in January, I have held numerous conversations with Conservative colleagues across the South West to make sure we have a concerted lobbying effort from MPs from across the region. Just this week, I reinforced this message once again with Mark Harper who chairs the South West caucus of Conservative MPs.

It is illuminating that in attacking me, Ms Charleston still does not provide an indication of her own views on the Stonehenge Tunnel. Perhaps she also prefers the fence-sitting and flip-flopping on the issue that has characterised the Liberal Democrat campaign for the Till and Wylye Valley Wiltshire Council by-election, where their position has changed on an almost daily basis.

It is not a statement of weakness nor passivity to state, as I did previously, that this is ultimately a decision for the Secretary of State for Transport. That is simply a reflection of reality. Individual constituency MPs are not absolute monarchs who click their fingers and roads appear by magic out of the ether. This is a major, national strategic investment decision by the UK government which has been subject to rigorous cost-benefit analysis. I have regularly and forcefully made the case for what I believe to be in the best interests of my constituents as part of that process. But the final decision will be a political assessment by the government on whether the economic benefits for the South West economy justify the costs of the project.

I have been delighted in recent months with major investment decisions which will demonstrably improve the lives of the people of Salisbury and South Wiltshire. Just recently, the government announced £16m for three road junctions in Salisbury and Openreach is nearing completion of making Salisbury their first full fibre city in the UK – both of which I pushed hard to secure. I will also be continuing to campaign for improvements to the A36 to reduce congestion, particularly on Southampton Road in Salisbury.

John Glen

MP for Salisbury