March 9 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Friday, January 17, 2014
David Cameron has said an upgrade to the A47 is crucial for Norfolk and Suffolk, but would not confirm that it will be in the final mini-budget later this year.
In an interview at the headquarters of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, Mr Cameron said that key East Anglia industries required good transport links, and he wanted to “unlock the true potential” of Norfolk and Suffolk.
He added that he would continue to talk to Chancellor George Osborne about the road.
The Department for Transport has said a feasibility study will be completed before the Autumn Statement, likely to be in November or December this year. But questioned by the EDP about whether the A47 upgrade would be included in the Chancellor’s spending blueprint six months before the next election, the Autumn Statement, Mr Cameron said he could not comment, adding: “I’m sure the first Lord of the Treasury and the Second Lord of the Treasury will keep talking to each other.”
The prime minister is also known as the First Lord of the Treasury, while Chancellor George Osborne is known as the Second Lord of the Treasury.
Mr Cameron said: “A47 is crucial. It is particularly crucial for Lowestoft to be included in that”
“I think is a very important programme. Let’s make sure it happens faster than the A11 did. We don’t want lots of delays. These things do take time, but it is important to get on with it.”
The prime minister travelled to Norwich from an earlier visit to Lowestoft by train, where he heard from Norwich MP Chloe Smith about the taskforce set up to work out a detailed plan to get faster and more reliable trains from Norwich to London in 90 minutes.
He said: “Obviously the rail links matter a huge amount as well. I have been talking to Chloe about that. Her very good group are bringing together the checklist of things that need to happen between the people who have the franchise and Network Rail aswell. “Are we going to get faster trains? Can we improve the track? There needs to be a programme to deliver this 90 minute service that we want to see.”
He said that a commitment to the rail service would “come in stages”.
He added: “The point of the exercise for that group is to draw up the action checklist and then we need to turn to Network Rail and a timetable for their improvements and then look at the 2016 franchise to see what more you can get out of the people operating the franchise to deliver. In the end it is going to be all those things that we will be doing.”
But general election candidates for Labour said that many people took what he said with a “pinch of salt”.
Lara Norris, Labour’s General Election candidate for Great Yarmouth said: “Investment in infrastructure in the region is desperately needed to ensure jobs and growth. All we seem to be getting from the Prime Minister is a commitment that at some point in the future, he will see if he can possibly release the funds that are needed.
“Unfortunately the track record of this Government, on things like the NHS, Sure Start, child benefit, and tuition fees means that many of us in Great Yarmouth take what the Prime Minister says with a pinch of salt.”
Jessica Asato, Labour’s General Election candidate for Norwich North said: “I welcome any infrastructure investment but all you need to do is look at the debacle of the A14 to see the true worth of David Cameron’s words. Incompetent ministers delayed Labour’s plans for a new road in 2010 and wasted three years on their failed toll scheme. As a result costs have shot up by £200million and local people and businesses are still waiting for work to begin on this vital new road.”
Clive Lewis, Labour’s General Election candidate for Norwich South said: “It’s noticeable that David Cameron isn’t saying anything about the cost-of-living crisis that is hitting families all over Norfolk and Suffolk. He has had a look at the polls and come to the conclusion that he is in real danger of losing important seats across the region and is running scared.”