‘Completely stupid’ - Great Yarmouth residents’ anger at ten-year delay to Acle Straight dualling
PUBLISHED: 17:32 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 22:00 16 September 2020
Residents and business owners in a Norfolk town have said they are angry and frustrated with the news the A47 Acle Straight will not be dualled for at least another decade.
The road between Acle and Great Yarmouth has not been included in the government’s road investment strategy for 2020-25 - with campaigners and councillors worried the next chance to push for the scheme will be 2030.
Tourism bosses have raised concerns over journey times for holidaymakers and day-trippers, but for those who live in Great Yarmouth the biggest problem is one of safety.
Danielle Haldron, 22, said the delay was “completely stupid”, knowing its dangers only too well.
“I lost one of my friends to that road seven years ago when she was just 15,” she said.
“We were at Flegg High together, and someone trying to overtake crashed into the car she was in.
“The road is a death trap. Between 4-6pm every evening it’s bumper to bumper. On the one hand it’s annoying if you commute to Norwich for work, but on a more serious note it means emergency services struggle to get through at peak times.
“Because it’s so slow and monotonous it encourages dangerous driving when people see an opportunity to get ahead.
“There’s no depth perception on the road. You have to think twice as hard about driving as you would driving anywhere else. Especially with headlights coming at you, you just can’t tell how far away things are.”
MORE: Anger as A47 dualling ruled out for at least a decade
Reg Harper, who lives in Bedfordshire but visits Yarmouth regularly, agreed safety should be the government’s top priority.
“So many people die on that road it’s ridiculous”, he said.
“Dualling it would help traffic flow better. If you go to Yarmouth on a Saturday at peak times, you could end up queuing from the Norwich roundabout. It’s an absolute nightmare and winds people up.
“I turn off at Caister at the Acle roundabout and come up into Yarmouth the long way purely to avoid that road.”
Michael Papa, who runs a restaurant on Yarmouth seafront, said his generation was “used to the constant dithering” every time someone suggests dualling.
“They’ve been talking about it since I was small”, he said.
“If they don’t do it soon it’s our kids who will suffer. I live and work in Great Yarmouth - so it doesn’t impact me hugely. But I know it does with the younger generation who commute.
“Besides, the town is dying off. Everything is closing and there’s increasingly less reason for people to visit. If they could at least get to Yarmouth in decent time that would help give it a boost.”
Aaron Jones, marketing director at the Pleasure Beach, echoed the fact that the road was “letting the town down”.
He said: “It’s the little things that put people off coming here. We get people from Essex, Colchester, Ipswich with constant complaints, they say it’s fine up until the Thickthorn area, and from there it seems like it takes forever.”
Trevor Wainwright, Labour leader at the borough council, said it was unfair to “raise people’s expectations” and then “let them down again”.
He said: “It’s very disappointing. With the third river crossing coming in 2021/22 it would have been beneficial. Anything we can do to improve accessibility to the borough is valued.
“But the plans go in and then they’re taken out again. Who knows where we’ll be in 2030 or 40?”
Kevin Huggins, chairman of Gorleston Traders’ Association, said he wasn’t surprised, but added that it “wasn’t worth dualling” until authorities sorted out traffic backlog at Vauxhall roundabout by adding an extra lane over Breydon bridge.
He said: “People coming down the Acle Straight come to south of Yarmouth going to Gorleston or Bradwell. But turning right at the Vauxhall roundabout leads to a queue. Dualling would be an awful waste of money until they do something about that.”
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Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he would be contacting the Department for Transport and Highways England to ask them to review their decision.
He said: “Great Yarmouth has seen huge capital investments over recent years and the combination of these measures will make the business case for the Acle Straight even stronger.”
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