April 18 2014 Latest news:
, Political Editor
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron said he would keep talking to his chancellor George Osborne about the “crucial” A47 upgrade, but stopped short of committing to its inclusion in the Autumn Statement.
The premier saw first-hand the work being carried out to improve infrastructure in Norfolk.
David Cameron spent 45 minutes touring the A11 dualling site at Elveden, seeing the progress and speaking to engineers.
Mr Cameron said: “It is hugely satisfying to see this vital piece of infrastructure being fixed. It is an important promise that we made and an important promise that has been kept.”
When questioned about the length of time it had taken to get the A11 dualled, Mr Cameron said: “I don’t think these things should take so long. We need to go faster and look at these things more quickly.”
He toured the site with South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who said it was fantastic to have support from the highest level.
She said: “This part of the country has missed out for years. East Anglia is getting more funding than any other area in the UK, except for London and the south west. It should be a priority.”
Mr Cameron walked over the new bridge, which was installed in October, and met the site managers and workers.
Terry Carrick, steel fixer foreman who works for Swords, Balfour Beatty’s subcontractor, said: “It’s nice for someone to turn up. It’s a big project and it’s great for us. It has been talked about for a long time.”
The EDP will keep up the pressure for investment in the trunk road, which links Great Yarmouth to the Midlands, as the clock ticks towards the unveiling of the government’s spending blueprint later this year.
The A47 has been added to an elite list of roads on which there will be feasibility studies carried out, and the Department for Transport has said it will report back before the key mini-budget, which is usually in November or December.
In an interview at the headquarters of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, Mr Cameron said that East Anglia industries required good transport links, and he wanted to “unlock the true potential” of Norfolk and Suffolk.
Questioned about whether the A47 upgrade would be included in 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 premier is 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. These things do take time, but it is important to get on with it.”
The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership called on the prime minister to “turn infrastructure promises into action”.
New Anglia LEP board member Mark Pendlington, who met the premier in Lowestoft, said: “Mr Cameron recognised that our part of the country has not had its fair share of infrastructure investment in the past. I was able to stress to him that growth, competitiveness and jobs depend on schemes like the dualling of the A11, and funding for the Postwick Hub and improvement schemes in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.”
Bob Blizzard, Labour’s general election candidate for Waveney, said: “Changing the name or number of a road doesn’t get us any further forward with a third river crossing in Lowestoft. Today the scheme isn’t anywhere on the list of transport schemes that Suffolk and Norfolk have submitted to the DfT for funding. Cameron’s words are just empty spin as far as Lowestoft is concerned.”
Mr Cameron travelled to Norwich from an earlier visit to Lowestoft, where he heard from Norwich MP Chloe Smith about the taskforce set up to form a 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 as well. 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.”