A MULTI-BILLION pound fund for road improvements on vital rounds around Taunton has been given an "absolute confirmation" from chancellor George Osborne.

It was announced in the Autumn Budget back in December 2014, that as part of transport investment in the South-West, funding would be provided to upgrade the A358, including the Henlade bypass and Junction 25 of the M5.

And now Taunton Deane's MP Rebecca Pow said she has received an "overwhelmingly positive assurance" from chancellor George Osborne.

Ms Pow asked the chancellor in the chamber on Tuesday to confirm that a £7.2billion allocation for transport infrastructure in the South-West included funding for the much needed upgrade of the A358, the Henlade bypass and Junction 25 of the M5.

He said: "The short answer is yes.

"All those vital projects for Somerset and the South-West are included in a massive investment in the transport of the South-West".

Campaigners and cllrs who have long-awaited improvements of the road have reacted positively to the news, but have said that they will keep putting pressure on the government.

Cllr John Williams, leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council said: “We recognise the frustration and concerns about the roads congestion at present which is caused by an inadequate road system.

“I am delighted the Government is at last helping us to find a solution to this long outstanding problem that has held back our economy.

"I applaud our MP for pursuing the issue with Government and winning this commitment.

“The road improvements coupled with the major investment at Taunton railway station as well as even faster and more frequent services to London and other destinations will help cement Taunton as a key location in the South-West for inward investment.”

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “Improvements to the A303, A358 and M5 J25 are key priorities for us as they will transform Somerset and the South-West’s transport links and provide huge benefits for local people, businesses and the tourism industry.

"We have campaigned hard over many years to put these at the top of the Government’s agenda and we are pleased to hear reassurances from the Chancellor.

"We will continue to keep pressure on Government until we have firm start dates and see diggers on the ground."

As well as dualling the A358 from Taunton to Ilminster, a bypass would be created to ease traffic at Henlade and a roundabout at J25, which will pave the way for a 60-acre strategic employment site in fields beside the Gateway park-and-ride facility.

Cllr John Williams said the site could create up to 4,000 jobs and that the authority was committed to responding to the identified demand for a high quality employment site.

But Mike Marshall, vice-chairman of Ruishton Parish Council said thing had to be done in the correct order.

"We need to ensure that the work is being carried out in an order that prevents a build up of traffic through Henlade.

"The motorway roundabout should be done first, then the bypass and then the dualling.

"If you start by dualling, all you're going to do is move the traffic down to Henlade."

There is currently no set timescale on when work will begin, but back in December, Chris Winter, chief executive at land owner Summerfield Developments, said the £15million motorway roundabout improvements could start in two years.

It would include four lanes all the way round, would be fully signalled and would link to the new bypass.

Ms Pow said: "The A358 is the busiest road in Somerset and is a strategic route linking the A303 with the M5.

"Upgrading it will ease the traffic for locals and tourists as well as benefitting business.

"Crucially the upgrade will unlock the potential for a strategic employment site to open adjacent to the motorway junction bringing with it much needed high quality jobs."

Roads minister Andrew Jones will be visiting the site to assess the situation and visit key stakeholders in the near future Ms Pow added.