June 19 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Campaigners wanting improvements to the A47 have pledged to lobby for a slice of a £3bn budget boost for infrastructure to be spent on the road.
In his budget speech, chancellor George Osborne said the extra money, generated from cuts to government departmental spending would be available from 2015.
And MPs and councillors said they would be calling for some of that windfall to be spent on a road on which eight people died in the space of just 10 weeks.
Just before the chancellor made the announcement of the extra cash in his budget, Henry Bellingham, North West Norfolk MP, asked a question about the road in Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Cameron said that funding had already been made available for the dualling of the A11, before adding: “There may be more to come.”
And, announcing the extra infrastructure cash in his budget, Mr Osborne said: “By investing in the economic arteries of this country, we will get growth flowing to every part of it.”
While the specific projects will the money will be spent on will not be set out until June, the lobbying for it to come to Norfolk has already begun.
Elizabeth Truss, South West Norfolk MP said: “I am delighted that my colleague Henry Bellingham MP pressed the Prime Minister on future road funding in Norfolk.
“We have witnessed too many tragedies on our roads and I am keen to see funding allocated to ensure the A47 is fit for purposes.
“Money has already been committed to implement safety measures at Broadend Road Junction however more work needs to be done and I want to ensure the A47 can safely cope with the high volume of traffic.
“In the budget the chancellor announced that savings of £3bn from government departments will be directed towards infrastructure.
“I will be maintaining the pressure on the government to ensure funding is made available for specific infrastructure projects like the A47.”
Following Mr Cameron’s response, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman tweeted: “Encouraging response from PM to Q about the need for funding to tackle urgent need for A47 upgrade. Treasury and DfT Ministers listening..”
East Anglian political and business leaders recently launched the Gateway to Growth campaign to secure A47 upgrades, which they say could generate nearly 10,000 jobs, add £390m to the region’s economy and attract £800m of private investment.
But the campaign also emphasises how improvements to the road would improve safety, an issue which has become particularly pertinent following eight deaths on the A47 since Christmas Eve.
The latest A47 tragedy - the deaths near Hockering of Billie-Jean Roberts, 48, and her daughter Antonia Huizar, known as Annie, 19, from Little Fransham - prompted MPs and leaders to write to transport minister Stephen Hammond calling for money to improve the A47 to be included in next week’s budget.
Graham Plant, cabinet member for housing and transportation, said today’s response from Mr Cameron and the inclusion of money in the budget showed the signs were pointing in the right direction.
He said: “I think it’s great that Henry Bellingham got the attention of the prime minister with this. This is about safety, but also improving the economy of Norfolk and the country.
“We will continue to make the case and I am really hopeful that will get a good package from the government.”
Businesses can breath a sigh of relief at the news that dredging operations at Wells will resume today after being suspended for more than two months over a licensing issue.