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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside 11 Downing Street before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his annual Budget statement. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 21, 2012. See PA story BUDGET stories. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Norfolk and Suffolk will be hoping it is third time lucky when the chancellor George Osborne announces his autumn statement on Wednesday.
Last year’s statement provided little to cheer about - though the government did talk about boosting infrastructure projects such as the controversial Norwich Northern bypass.
But what emerged was more akin to a list of familiar road schemes, but little in the way of construction work actually beginning.
In fact you have to go back to 2010 to find the biggest thing to cheer about - when to the delight of Norfolk MPs the chancellor, in his first spending review since the formation of the coalition in May, confirmed that the government would at last dual the final stretch of the A11.
But much of that first statement was overshadowed by the fact that the axe would fall on public services as the coalition pledged to get to grips with the deficit with councils seeing funding slashed by 30pc.
Mr Osborne was booed at this year’s Paralympic Games, and despite the boost to the economy from London 2012, it is hard to see that there will be anything to get excited about on Wednesday.
Business groups from Norfolk Chamber to the CBI have long pressed for more spending on roads, rail and airports to help restore the health of UK plc.
But there was little on offer last year, as hopes of vast infrastructure improvements to the roads and rail networks became mere pipe dreams last year when Mr Osborne revealed that there would be no significant funding for the area – despite declaring that “great cities are at the heart of our economies.”
What the chancellor did offer was a promise to make some infrastructure improvements that could benefit the region.
He announced that immediate improvements to the A14 Kettering bypass near Cambridge, which are now likely to begin in 2013, while also pledging to make sure 90pc of homes were linked up to superfast broadband – although there are still parts of the east where internet connections are sluggish.
Prime minister David Cameron was reportedly rounding on his ministers during last week’s cabinet meeting asking aloud why flagship schemes such as the Work programme and the broadband rollout were so far failing to deliver as fast as he would like.
He may not be alone.
And we may still be some way away for the UK economy to start striking gold whatever the chancellor unveils on Wednesday.
A £2m plan to transform Palmers department store in Dereham and a neighbouring eyesore into an upmarket supermarket and clothing shop has been confirmed.