Minister sheds doubt on A47 Alliance hopes

Traffic on the A47 Acle Straight which runs between Great Yarmouth and Acle passing through Halverg

Traffic on the A47 Acle Straight which runs between Great Yarmouth and Acle passing through Halvergate Marshes.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

The A47 may not get a Government commitment to its full wish-list of schemes, the new transport minister in charge of the road has said.

John Hayes has told MPs that solutions need to be found to the strategically important route, but the study currently being carried out would not necessarily result in a commitment to all the priorities.

His comments came in a letter to South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss.

Mr Hayes, who joined the Department for Transport in July, has been given responsibility for the road, taking over from Robert Goodwill, who just months before was driven along the route by MPs.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has invited Mr Hayes to visit Great Yarmouth to see the economic advantages that dualling could have.

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Mr Hayes said it was important that a 'sound economic case' which demonstrated 'value for money' was understood.

He praised the A47 Alliance as an 'excellent example' of how a range of local and regional interests could work together.

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Adding: 'It is important that the work completed as part of the study reflects strategic priorities set out by the Alliance, although it may not be possible as a result of this study to give a future investment commitment to all of the short-medium term priorities identified by the A47 Alliance.'

An announcement on the A47 is expected in the Autumn Statement in December.

Toby Coke, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Environment, Development and Transport Committee, said: 'This is encouraging, but Norfolk County Council expects at least £500m to finance the improvements to the A47 which the A47 Alliance and Department for Transport have progressed to their final stages.

'This will largely affect Norfolk but will also impact on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and will be a huge step forward. We fully recognise that complete dualling cannot be done at once but we are seeking a real commitment from the government that the A47 is dualled all the way from the A1 right through to Lowestoft in the medium term.'

Great Yarmouth MP, Brandon Lewis, said: 'I am encouraged by the letter from the Minister, who has made it clear that the Government understands the infrastructure challenges faced in our area. I have written to invite Mr Hayes to visit Great Yarmouth and see for himself the economic advantages that dualling could have, improving access for businesses, commuters and visitors alike.'

South West Norfolk MP, Elizabeth Truss, said: 'I am extremely pleased that the Minister recognises the strategic importance of the A47/A12 corridor and the need to find solutions. I am very much encouraged by the fact that the DFT is keen to discuss with local MPs the priorities of the route. I am keen that the concerns I have already raised about Broadend Road junction and the access/exit routes by Sporle and Narborough are discussed further. 'The long term goal is very much a fully dualled A47/A12 and I will continue to make this point to both the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin and the Chancellor George Osborne.'

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