Chancellor George Osborne says A47 investment is ‘essential’, but stops short of funding pledge

Chancellor George Osborne visits the construction work at the Postwick Hub interchange. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Chancellor George Osborne visits the construction work at the Postwick Hub interchange. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2014

Further investment in the A47 is “essential” if Norfolk’s economy is to grow, the chancellor of the exchequer said during a visit to Norwich - but he would not confirm that funding will be committed to the road.

George Osborne gave the strongest indication yet that the autumn statement will contain good news for campaigners who have called for investment in the road, with a visit to the Postwick Hub - a key junction on the A47 to the east of Norwich.

But while he said the A47 was at the “top of the list”, after the government said it would invest £15bn in roads in the next parliament, he kept the county in suspense by refusing to confirm funding before next month’s autumn statement.

He said: “We are making the final decisions over the next week and are going to make announcements on which schemes will get funding as part of our long term plans.

“The A47 is at the top of the list, but before the final decision, I wanted to talk to local MPs and leaders and see what the economic case is and what is needed to improve this vital road.

“I have heard a really compelling case for why the A47 is such an important road, not just for Norwich, but Lowestoft and the rest of East Anglia.

“As investment in infrastructure is central to the government’s long-term economic plan, it is clear that further investment in the A47 is essential for growing the local economy of Norfolk.

“In the run up to the autumn statement, I will be carefully examining what more the government can do to invest in improvements for the East of England.”

He said “compelling cases” had been made for improvements at Easton and Blofield, while it was also important the A12 was not “left out”.

On whether money would be available to improve rail services, he said the service was “not adequate” and that Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Ipswich MP Ben Gummer had made a “powerful case”.

But again, he would not commit to funding. He said: “I have got to properly look at the report they prepared, which the Department for Transport says is one of the most impressive they have seen.”

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said he would welcome long overdue investment in the A47 and stressed the need for action to improve safety on the Acle straight by moving roadside dykes.

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