Clarke attacks county on green record

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Controversial plans for a Norwich northern bypass should be dropped and not receive any government funding unless more priority is given to promote green transport initiatives in the city, Norwich South MP Charles Clarke said last night.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Controversial plans for a Norwich northern bypass should be dropped and receive no government funding unless greater priority is given to green transport initiatives in the city, Norwich South MP Charles Clarke said last night.

In a letter to county council leader Shaun Murphy, he blasted the authority's record on a number of city transport issues, including scrapping of the orbital bus route, failure to pedestrianise Westlegate, and lack of progress on creating a "green" city centre.

Last night Mr Murphy said Mr Clarke's comments flew in the face of government praise of the county's record on transport last month. He accused the former home secretary of playing politics ahead of the submission of the city council's "go-it-alone" bid for unitary status next week.

Mr Clarke said in his letter: "I have become increasingly concerned about the apparent drift by the county council away from the commitment to a green and sustainable city centre. I deplore the county's recent decision not to give the orbital bus in Norwich the full three-year experimental period.

"The marketing of the service has been execrable and very many of my constituents who live near the route still do not know when and where the bus goes. It needs time and good marketing to succeed."

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Mr Murphy said: "This is surprising and extremely unhelpful from the Norwich South MP since the delivery of the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) is one of the top desirables for the future growth and prosperity of the county and the reduction of congestion in the city. That's why the county council is absolutely committed to it and is working so hard to make it happen."

Mr Clarke has blamed judges for undermining the war against terrorism and public confidence in the criminal justice system.

Giving evidence to a House Lords select committee, he said that a Court of Appeal decision to block the deportation of Afghans who took over a passenger plane amounted to a "tacit invitation to terrorist hijackers".