‘An opportunity that can’t be missed’ - Call to arms over A11 dualling
08:42 10 June 2014
A group of MPs and business leaders have agreed to bang the drum for our economy by sending the message that the dualling of the A11 means that Norfolk and Suffolk are “open for business”.
The dualling of the A11 is the culmination of a 30-year campaign by the Eastern Daily Press and other dogged campaigners, yesterday’s meeting heard.
Nigel Pickover, Editor-in-Chief, told the meeting how the paper had been pushing for the road’s revamp since the 80s.
“This is our oldest campaign. We started in 1984 and with the help of other parties we have never given up.
“This is so important for Norfolk and Suffolk and it’s important not just to have a great fanfare now but to sing the impacts of this massive development long into the future,” he said.
Valerie Watson-Brown, from A11 Gateway East business forum, said her group of Thetford businesses had been putting pressure on for the project to be done.
“We once leafleted every car from the Elveden traffic lights to the Fiveways and it’s been a great effort to get to where we are now.
“The important thing now is to make sure we think really carefully about Thetford so it’s not bypassed by drivers,” she said.
Seven MPs from across the area and representatives from groups including Norfolk County Council, New Anglia LEP, Anglian Water and the EDP met at Westminster yesterday to hammer out a plan to push our region’s business profile once the nine-mile stretch of road is fully dualled by the end of the year.
Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, chaired the meeting and described the opening, scheduled for October, as “an opportunity that cannot be missed”.
“This is about us asking how can our businesses expand, how can we highlight our heritage and how can we highlight our tourism trade?” she said. “But what people also want to show is that it’s not just a road, it’s about maximising the impact of getting the A11 dualled and letting people know that we are open for business.”
RAF Marham, Hethel Engineering, the University of Anglia and Thetford Academy were among the range of businesses and institutions set to benefit from the dualling, according to Ms Truss.
Several speakers, including George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, and Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, said there had to be a strong emphasis on the completion being the start of major development in the region.
Mr Freeman said: “The bigger message is that we are building a regional economy with clean, green, modern growth and this is not the end, it’s just the beginning.”
Mr Lewis and Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, were also keen to push the case for the road’s completion acting as a springboard for wider investment – including the improvement of the A47.
Mr Lewis said: “It’s a start for what should follow next. It’s something we can work right down the spine that goes through to the A47.”
The dualling project, taking place from the Fiveways roundabout near Barton Mills to Thetford, is due to be completed in October this year. Work started in January 2013.
What do you think the dualling’s impact on Norfolk and Suffolk will be? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on firstname.lastname@example.org