Link road row leaves parishes at loggerheads

A row over a controversial stretch of road which has claimed two lives in recent years reached has new heights, sparking a political football involving no less than 16 communities.

A row over a controversial stretch of road which has claimed two lives in recent years reached has new heights, sparking a political football involving no less than 16 communities.

At a major meeting at Hockering last night, representatives of parish councils in mid Norfolk found themselves at loggerheads over plans to ease traffic and improve safety by building a road linking the A47 and the A1067

More than 100 residents, plus business leaders and county, district and parish councillors discussed five route options proposed by Norfolk County Council to streamline traffic.

High-profile companies with a direct interest in a link road are looking to resurrect a sixth option previously discarded by County Hall as unsuitable. They insist the former Norwich distributor route is the only commercially viable alternative.

The option also has the support of Hockering residents desperate to see the current heavy traffic passing through the village moved elsewhere. The sixth option refers to a road linking the A47 with the A1067 which would leave the Morton on the Hill crossroads, then head south to the east of Weston Longville and access the A47 at the Wood Lane junction.

Along the 4km link road they are also calling for a four to five arm roundabout at Wood Lane on the A47 Norwich/Dereham road which they say would be the only safe alternative and save taxpayers' money. Norfolk County Council favours a roundabout at Mattishall Road, less than a mile eastwards, as the cheaper option

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"A wide range of affected parties feel this option (route six) should be properly considered - individuals living between the A47 and the A1067, businesses operating in the area, district and local parish councils," said Richard Hawker, of Hockering parish council.

David Reger, for Bernard Matthews, backed the 4km link road.

But David Gurney, chairman of Weston Longville Parish Council hit back, arguing the village would not want to see all the traffic snarl-ups currently experienced by Hockering shifted to their own neighbourhood.

"The parish council supports a route from a roundabout at the junction of Wood Lane with the A47, across the former airfield and then along Hockering Road and Weston Hall Road to Lenwade," he said. "It makes a lot of sense to build upon what is already there, to minimise the impacts on local residents, impacts on the environment and the cost of the scheme."

Other angry speakers included residents from the Morton on the Hill - a small hamlet which could see a massive increase in traffic as vehicles are directed through their backyard as well as parish councillors from Barnham Broom who want a link road providing it is a dual and not a single carriageway as initially proposed by the county council.

Norfolk County Council is expected to announce the results of the consultation which kicked off on July 26 and ended on Monday.

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