Pressure mounting to get A47 fully dualled with delegation set for Westminster talks
- Credit: Archant
YOUR calls for the full dualling of the A47 are to be taken to Westminster, when a special delegation will heap pressure on the government for a multi-million pound commitment to the region.
Politicians and business leaders from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire will unite in London next month - to compel the government to make the upgrades the Conservative party chairman insists are crucial for the region's economic prosperity.
The Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce last year launched the Just Dual It! campaign, calling for the funding to fully dual the road.
More than 2,000 people filled in postcards, given away with this newspaper, to lend their backing for the campaign.
Reasons given for supporting the campaign included that a fully dualled road would improve road safety, cut journey times and add reliability to travelling.
They said it would also mean a better transport link from the east of England to the Midlands and further afield.
Those postcards will be taken to the parliamentary reception, which transport secretary Chris Grayling and transport minister Jessie Norman are due to attend.
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A selection of the comments which people wrote on the postcards will be screened at the meeting.
The A47 parliamentary reception at Westminster will be hosted by Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis on behalf of the A47 Alliance.
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Mr Lewis, chairman of the Conservative party and cabinet minister without portfolio, said: "As both a backbench MP and a government minister, I have been stating the need for the dualling of the A47.
"Not only will this hugely benefit my own constituency of Great Yarmouth, and in particular the growth of the energy industry and Outer Harbour, but the dualling of the A47 will also improve regional infrastructure across Norfolk and the East of England.
"That's why I am delighted to be hosting the A47 Alliance event in Parliament so we can best make the case to my government colleagues at the Department for Transport for the upgrades the road so urgently needs."
While the Department for Transport has committed to making £300m of improvements to the road, including dualling some stretches, substantial sections of will still be single carriageway with no plans to dual them.
This autumn, the Department for Transport is expected to announce which trunk roads will get money from its Road Investment Strategy funding pot, for improvements to be carried out between 2020 and 2025.
Keen to ensure the A47 is included in that announcement, the A47 Alliance has gathered evidence to demonstrate the need for upgrade to the major east-west route, which runs from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth on the east coast to the A1 at Peterborough.
The A47 Alliance is calling for a funding commitment for full dualling by 2030 and to prioritise upgrading three sections by 2025:
- The Acle Straight in Norfolk
- Tilney to East Winch (including Hardwick flyover) in Norfolk
- Peterborough to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire
Martin Wilby, chairman of the A47 Alliance and Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said: "The East of England is a vast region, but we are under-served in terms of our transport links with the rest of the country. It's time for this to change.
"We want our businesses to thrive, grow and create more jobs.
"We want visitors to be able to come to the region and spend money in our tourism and service industries while they're here.
"And we want people who live and work here to feel able to get around safely and have a better quality of life, not spend hours every week in slow-moving traffic or at a standstill.
"A fully dualled A47 is vital to achieving this.
"We'll be leaving ministers is no doubt of how serious the region is about this when we see them in June."
Between 2011 and 2015, there were 180 fatal or serious crashes on the A47.
Road safety officers at County Hall say dual carriageway A-roads have better safety records than single carriageways.
Council bosses also say shorter and more reliable journey times will provide a huge boost to the regional economy by attracting new businesses and helping existing ones to become more profitable.
'It's a dangerous death trap' - what you said about the A47
Thousands of people filled in postcards to add weight to our Just Dual It! campaign for the A47.
Here's what some of them wrote:
Andy, from Norwich: "It's a dangerous death trap and it's a major road."
Arthur, from Gorleston: "It is one of the most dangerous single carriage roads in the county. Save people's lives and dual it."
David, from Kessingland: "The current road is inadequate for current traffic and improvement would aid the east of England economy."
Helen, from Cambridge: "I regularly travel on the A47 and frequently get delayed. Please, please agree to it being dualled. You know you want to!"
Some of the messages will shown on a screen during the Westminster reception.
People can still tweet messages for potential inclusion by using the #justdualit hashtag. Tweets will need to be posted by Friday. May 17 to be considered.
'An opportunity not to be missed' - business backing for full dualling
Businesses say that full dualling of the A47 is essential to bring jobs and economic growth to the region.
Nova Fairbank, head of policy for Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said: "It is vital for our county's economic growth that we clearly demonstrate that Norfolk is 'open for business'.
"The full dualling of the A47 is a 'must have' in order to deliver greater economic growth and jobs in this region.
"From tourism to logistics; energy and manufacturing to research and agriculture; all sectors across our region rely heavily on the A47 as our main artery East to West and onwards to the Midlands.
"The passion and commitment of our business community to achieving a fully dualled A47 is clear; the economic benefits are evident; and the ability to articulate this directly to government ministers is an opportunity not to be missed."
A united front
With the A47 running through three counties, the A47 Alliance is hoping the united front from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire will lend weight to their calls.
James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be at the Westminster event and said: "This road links East Anglia with the East Midlands, connects the key cities of Peterborough and Norwich, and is important for tourism, agriculture and the local economy generally.
"People and businesses rightly can't fathom why such a critical road is majority single carriageway.
"But we have been working hard to bring plans forward that would see the whole of the route dualled in Cambridgeshire in a single scheme and crucially our findings show a strong economic case.
"But we need government support for this, and that's why taking the message to Westminster directly is so important."