Broken promises over dualling of the A47: Time for amends to be made
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
It's time to make up for broken promises over the A47 - that's the message to the government today, almost 30 years after a pledge was made to spend more than £200m dualling the road.
As momentum grows for a campaign to fully dual the A47 between Lowestoft and Peterborough - which would now cost £15bn - the government has been reminded of a previous commitment to a road which is so crucial to the region.
It was in May 1989 that transport secretary Paul Channon unveiled details of a £6bn spending 10-year spending spree, including more than £200m in East Anglia.
That money would have seen more than 150 miles of new dual carriageway, with the A47 dualled from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth and the A11 dualled.
While the A11 eventually was dualled and £300m has been pledged for the A47 in the short-term, the wait continues for a commitment to full dualling of what many refer to as Norfolk's spine road.
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Five years after the government made its commitment to full dualling of the A47, a new review called Trunk Roads in England saw the government turn back from such spending, although the southern Norwich bypass was built, along with improvements between Dereham/North Tuddenham and at Narborough.
It means less than half the road is dualled and last week saw the launch of the 'Just Dual It!' campaign, spearheaded by the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.
The aim of the campaign is to put pressure on the government to commit to further improvements, with people urged to send back postcards given away with this paper to demonstrate the strength of public opinion, as the government ponders which road projects should get funding beyond 2020.
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Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee and chairman of the A47 Alliance, said: 'It really is staggering that we're still having to fight to get the A47 fully dualled.
'What a great pity the promises made in 1989 weren't kept but what a great opportunity for our current government to right this wrong, commit the funding to get this major route dualled and, most importantly, make sure it happens as soon as possible.'
What was promised in 1989?
When transport secretary Paul Channon unveiled his white paper in 1989, this is what the government said it would do within 10 years:
• Dual the A47 from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth, including the Acle Straight
• Dual the A12 from Ipswich to Lowestoft. (The section of the A12 from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft has since been redesignated as the A47)
• Dual the A11 from Norwich to the M11
• Dual the A140 from Norwich to Scole
There was jubilation from business bosses at the massive scale of the investment.
It was seen as potentially saving jobs at manufacturing firms, where poor links were forcing employers to think about leaving the area.
Fast forward to the 21st century and both Britvic and Unilever, which produces Colman's Mustard, are set to move manufacturing out of Norwich, to Rugby and Burton-upon-Trent.
How to get involved
People wanting to add their support to the A47 dualling campaign can send back the Just Dual It! postcards given away with last Friday's Eastern Daily Press.
You can get them from our offices in Rouen Road; County Hall in Martineau Lane; Norfolk Chamber of Commerce in Whiting Road, Norwich; Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Town Hall or West Norfolk Council's offices in King's Lynn.
However, unlike the ones given away with the paper, those postcards are not Freepost, so you would need to put a stamp on it, or fill it in and hand it back where you pick it up.
People can also tweet their support for the campaign using the hashtag #justdualit. If you include your full name and location in the tweet, we will transfer your message onto a postcard for you.
You can also write, outlining your experiences of using the A47 to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPletters@archant.co.uk
Support from over the borders
Support has been growing for the 'Just Dual It!' campaign - even from beyond Norfolk and Suffolk's borders.
Lord Porter, leader of South Holland District Council in Lincolnshire and chairman of the Local Government Association, tweeted his authority's support.
He said: 'One road, four lanes, thousands of winners!'
And the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has pledged his full support to the campaign.
James Palmer, who describes improving the A47 as essential to unlocking the economic potential of the north of East Anglia, said: 'I give my full support to the A47 Alliance and am very keen that the combined authority works with the campaign to upgrade this crucial road to a standard that will help unlock the economic future of the northern part of East Anglia.'