Lords anger as Whitehall omit part of Norfolk and Suffolk from map
06:30 16 May 2014
Imagine a world with no Lowestoft, no Great Yarmouth and no happy holidays at Hopton - this is the world according to Whitehall.
Norfolk and Suffolk are doing much better than is being painted, a local enterprise boss has said, in the wake of a spending watchdog report which is highly critical of regional growth spending.
Chris Dashper hit back at a Public Accounts Committee study out today, which claims out of £3.9billion allocated to regions since the coalition came to power in 2010, less than £400million had actually been allocated to local projects and businesses.
The committee said that officials had been forced to admit that their initial projections for jobs created or safeguarded had proved “wildly over-optimistic”.
Mr Dashper, head of programmes at New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (Lep), said its flagship Growing Business Fund, was ahead of all its targets and another Growing Places Fund had helped make the Barton Mills development on the A11, the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre and the Haverhill Research Park a reality. A further £9.4m has been committed to pipeline projects.
He also said the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone had seen nine companies take up residence and had created a total of 478 jobs since it opened in 2012, and it had attracted over £10m of private-sector investment and was on track to meet its target of 1,500 jobs and £20m of private investment by next May.
“We are the only Enterprise Zone in the country which has not revised its jobs targets downwards and are recognised by government as one of the best performing.”
And Lords are leaping up and down about it.
Peers have launched a tirade against transport officials accusing them of indifference to East Anglia after they wiped a chunk of the east coast off one of their maps.
Lord Marlesford turned his fire on the Department for Transport in a parliamentary debate after discovering the omission in its blueprint for infrastructure.
He accused officials of ignoring Suffolk.
“There can be no bigger indicator of Whitehall indifference to those of us who live in East Anglia than that,” he said.
Labour’s Lord Rosser joined the fray adding: “I hope the department will realise that those two places still exist and manage to produce another map.”
Last night the Department for Transport said the omission of the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline from the congestion map was unintentional, adding: “This in no way reflects the views of the Department or the importance of infrastructure across the whole of East Anglia.” .
Lord Marlesford criticised the last government, which he said had “detrunked” the A12 north of Ipswich, and demoted it from the strategic network, saying the road, which stretches from the M25 on the outskirts of London to Lowestoft, should be part of England’s strategic network.
This is particularly important because of plans to build one of the next nuclear power stations in Sizewell, he said.
He raised concerns that EDF, which is behind the project, has plans to build a short new road that would slash through the attractive Suffolk village of Farnham, and has proposed a huge lorry park south of Wickham Market, because the current road cannot take its lorries.
The Suffolk Preservation Society president said a four-village bypass around Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, was urgently needed.
“It should be part of the upgrading of the A12 and be brought into the strategic road network,” he said.
The Suffolk peer added: “It is extraordinary that my county of Suffolk does not have a place in the strategy at all. Indeed, if the minister opens her copy of the report at page 84, she will see that, in order to fit the map of England on to the page, the whole of the coastal area of Suffolk has been cut off. That is the most sensitive area of Suffolk. There can be no bigger indicator of Whitehall indifference to those of us who live in East Anglia than that.”
The DFT said: “The Government is committed to transport investment that boosts the economy in all parts of Britain. For example, we are pressing forward with the £1.5bn development of the A14 and undertaking a study into improving the A47 and A12 between Peterborough, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. However, the case for retrunking the A12 north of Ipswich would need to be set out by the local highway authority and be supported by a strong economic rationale, before any decision could be made.”