Roads minister struck by A47 ‘anger’ in ‘no holds barred meeting’, say MPs
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Norfolk MPs have told of a “no holds barred” meeting with a government minister over the ongoing fight to see the A47 Acle Straight fully dualled.
The county’s MPs met with roads minister Baroness Charlotte Vere following anger after the project was ruled out as part of the next wave of government road schemes by Highways England (HE).
Speaking during a meeting of the A47 Alliance, held on Friday, October 23, George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said: “We called a crisis meeting immediately to register the very strongest terms - it was pretty no holds barred.
“All the MPs throughout Norfolk made pretty clear that after 40 years, and the prime minister and chancellor coming and saying this was an urgent priority, it’s not good enough to have Department for Transport (DfT) staff saying that’s not a priority.
“I think the minister was struck by the anger.”
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The Conservative MP added: “She agreed the member of staff who made the comments would be told it was out of order and not a reflection of the government’s commitment to the road.”
He said the minister and the head of the DfT would visit the region to meet with the Alliance.
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“It is also clear that this government’s infrastructure priorities have shifted,” he added.
“The North of England is going to take priority and that’s a fact of life. We are keen the A47 is also seen as a priority.
“The A14 is a very long way from Norfolk. If you want to trigger development and growth particularly in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, then the A47 is very important. We will still have an ongoing battle on our hands.”
While James Wild, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk added that regular progress meetings would take place with HE.
“We want to get some stuff happening on the ground,” he said. “The minister gave us her commitment deadlines already established would be met and she would be holding HE to account.”
And Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, said: “Progress over the past few years has been incredibly disappointing.
“We need to make efforts with the LEP about the priority of the Acle Straight.”
The Alliance has written to the government again to emphasise the improvements to the road are “fundamental to the economic vibrance of East Anglia as well as making this essential road safer for its users”.