Call for new A140 roundabout at Hempnall

Calls have been made for safety improvements on a notorious south Norfolk road junction after it emerged that it would not benefit from a long-awaited bypass scheme.

District councillors urged Norfolk County Council to support a campaign for a roundabout at the Hempnall crossroads on the A140.

Members at South Norfolk Council have unanimously called for the junction improvement after planning permission for the �35m Long Stratton bypass, which would have included a Hempnall roundabout, ended earlier this year, .

The motion, which urges officials at County Hall to include the scheme in its future roads upgrade programme, received cross-party support at a meeting this week.

However, Norfolk County Council said funding for new projects was very tight and the junction's accident record did not put the Hempnall crossroads at the top of the authority's to-do list.

Over the last five years, there have been six accidents recorded at the junction, all with slight injuries, and a roundabout would cost about �2m, says the county council.

Murray Gray, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at South Norfolk, said he had called for the scheme to be put forward because a potential developer-funded Long Stratton bypass would not include Hempnall crossroads.

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'The case for a roundabout is similar to the one that was successful at Pulham crossroads, which has made a tremendous difference to the safety on that junction. We are asking for a similar junction at Hempnall - it is a very dangerous crossroads if you are trying to cross over or turn right.'

'It is difficult to find money for anything. We are not asking for it to be constructed tomorrow, we just want it on the forward plan for the future,' he said.

Long Stratton councillor Alison Thomas, who is also a county councillor, added: 'We accept that it is a huge issue for everyone travelling in south Norfolk. Our long-term aspirations are a roundabout and a big capital project is a way off, but any junction improvements in the interim would be grateful.'

John Birchall, spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said there was general support for a roundabout on the A140 at Hempnall, but the accident record did not strengthen the case significantly.

'Avoiding those accidents would save around �150,000 a year, but the cost of the roundabout would be in the region of �2m at a time when funding is likely to remain very tight, and when there will certainly be other improvements competing for the limited funds available,' he said.

Hopes of a long-awaited Long Stratton bypass rest on plans for 1,800 new homes in the village, which would help fund the road scheme.