A47, Third Crossing and fishing: MP’s call for investment to help towns ‘left behind’
- Credit: Archant
Coastal communities could have a major role in the UK economy with the right investment, an East Anglian MP has announced.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous took to the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 17, following the announcement of the 2020 budget.
During the debate, Mr Aldous called for work to begin on a number of planned projects, including several on the A47.
He said; “When it comes to infrastructure, the right schemes must be chosen — not vanity projects, but productive and growth-enhancing schemes that are a catalyst for private sector investment.
“In 2014, funding was provided for six schemes on the A47 from Lowestoft through Norfolk to Peterborough.
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“Six years later, five of those schemes have yet to see any work starting on the ground.
“The third crossing project in Lowestoft will bring about great positive change to the town.
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“It is an oven-ready scheme. We are ready to go, yet we still await a planning decision that should have been made more than three months ago.”
A decision on the Lake Lothing third crossing project was due to be made in December, but was delayed following the announcement of the 2019 general election.
Mr Aldous said: “The budget focused on two issues: the UK’s initial response to the serious threat posed by coronavirus to the UK economic outlook, and a significant increase in public spending to raise productivity, promote growth, and spread its proceeds to all corners of the UK.
“That is particularly important in my constituency of Waveney, which is the most easterly constituency in the UK.
“Such is the gravity of the first issue, it is increasingly apparent this will not be a short-term blip, that the two issues are increasingly becoming intertwined. It is right to increase public spending in this way, although it is not without risk.
“As we leave the EU, we need the economy to be firing on all cylinders, not spluttering along in third gear.
“We have a host of challenges to address, such as climate change and promoting the green economy, the crisis on the high street, and the urgent need to improve social mobility.
“Added to that cocktail, we must now support people and businesses to get through the enormous challenge of coronavirus.”
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Aldous said coastal communities had been “left behind”, but had a lot to offer the economy.
He said: “In Lowestoft, there is a compelling case for investment in the port. It lies in close proximity to one of the UK’s most productive fishing grounds, from which, as we leave the EU, we have a great opportunity to land more fish and to revive the local industry.
“To make the most of this opportunity, we need to invest in infrastructure, in ports, markets and processing factories. That would be so much help to coastal communities that have been left behind.
“Investment in bricks and mortar and in concrete and steel is very important, but it is investment in people that matters most.
“The additional £1.5 billion for capital investment in further education colleges and the £5 billion national skills fund to improve adult technical skills are welcome, and it is very good news for colleges like East Coast College, which last week achieved a good Ofsted rating.”
Mr Aldous also addressed flood defence schemes, planned in a bid to protect residents.
He said: “Coastal communities along the East Anglian coast face a significant challenge from coastal erosion and storm surges.
“The sea does not just damage homes and businesses; ultimately, it destroys them.
“The Lowestoft flood defence scheme will remove that threat. At present, it is only part funded, so it is good news that the Budget recognises the threat of coastal erosion and provides an additional £5.2 billion for flood defences.