By JOSEPH WATTS
Friday, December 7, 2012
A new source of funding to pay for a major upgrade to the A47 may have emerged in the chancellor’s autumn statement.
Campaigners in Norfolk recently published a business case claiming investment in the road could create 10,000 jobs and bring the county a yearly £390m economic boost.
Meanwhile, dualling the 105-mile road from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth would reduce journey times by 30mins. But there is a question over how any upgrade might be paid for.
However, on Wednesday George Osborne announced the government would make cheap loans available to pay for major infrastructure projects. Every local enterprise partnership (LEP), groupings of council and business leaders tasked with boosting economic growth, will get to nominate one project to benefit from the cheap money.
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he would today be meeting members of the New Anglia LEP, which covers Norfolk and Suffolk, to see if the A47 might be the scheme it nominates.
He said: “I will certainly be urging the LEP to look at the A47 as a project that might benefit, because there is no doubt that upgrading the road would open up so much growth across Norfolk.
“We need to find out more about the autumn statement announcement, but it’s a route to explore. The LEP are working well and, if it’s right I’m sure they will make a decision in Norfolk’s best interest.”
The A47 is the responsibility of the Highways Agency rather than the county council, so it is up to the government as to whether it is eventually improved or not.
However, the county council believes it could still bring in about £110m of local funding to help make improvements a reality.
A spokesman from the LEP said: “We did notice the announcement in the autumn statement and we have started to make inquiries of government departments as to how it might work.
“That information will be coming back to us in due course.”