Fresh questions over Norwich northern bypass

Questions will be asked today over a decision to set aside �2.5m to serve as a 'war chest' for the Norwich northern bypass, with Green councillors keen to establish what alternatives uses for the cash were considered.

With the government only agreeing to fund �86.5m towards the �141.5m Northern Distributor Road, which will stretch for 19.5km from Postwick on the A47 to the A1067 Fakenham Road, the rest of the cash will have to be found by the county council.

Some of the money is earmarked to come from developer contributions through the new Community Infrastructure Levy, but the county council will have to borrow to plug the gap.

The council agreed earlier this month to create a reserve fund to mitigate future borrowing costs for the road, which the council says is necessary to speed up travel and cut congestion and rat-running in the north of Norwich.

But members of the Green Party want to investigate how the decision to set aside the money for the NDR came to be made, and what alternatives were looked at.

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They have 'called in' the decision to today's cabinet scrutiny committee meeting, where deputy leader Ian Mackie, will be asked further questions.

The Greens will ask whether the full council should have had the chance to debate the use of the cash, which was available because of an underspend on the council's budget.

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They will also ask whether alternative uses for the money were considered, what criteria was used to judge the NDR fund was the best use for the cash and whether the directors of council departments were consulted about the transfer.

The cash for the NDR was part of �5m which the county council's cabinet agreed to allocate for projects which the controlling Conservative group says will boost Norfolk's infrastructure and economy.

The cabinet agreed that a further �2m be transferred into the Norfolk Infrastructure Fund, a pot of cash which can be spent on economic growth-boosting projects.

Richard Bearman, leader of the Green group at County Hall said: 'We want to challenge the allocation of this money because we are deeply concerned that underspends are being transferred to capital funds with no immediate benefit to Norfolk residents.

'Did they consider alternatives, such as the youth service, the Coasthopper bus subsidy or preventative care for the elderly?'

The questions will be asked at the cabinet scrutiny meeting at County Hall today.

• Are you in favour of the NDR? Tell us your views by writing to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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