City council leaders say Norwich transport plans 'lack ambition'

Traffic in Norwich has increased as restrictions on travel have lifted and many shops have reopened.

The Transport for Norwich Strategy has been criticised by city councillors. - Credit: Denise Bradley

City council leaders have criticised a blueprint for transport in Norwich, saying it lacks ambition and relies too much on new roads.

The Transport for Norwich strategy, currently out for public consultation, looks at ways to get people around the city, while cutting carbon and improving air quality.

It includes possibilities such as a congestion charge, a workplace parking levy and banning certain vehicles from the city centre.

But Norwich City Council's Labour-controlled cabinet is next week (Wednesday, September 8) likely to agree its draft response to the strategy - and to call for changes.

They are set to say there needs to be more ambition to help people move around the city more easily by bike, bus and on foot - backed by sufficient funding.

And city councillors will say there is an excessive focus on building new roads that fuel traffic growth, while there is a need for more evidence and data to track progress.

They will say there needs to be: 


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  • A 20mph default speed limit across Norwich
  • More charging points for electric vehicles
  • A greater focus to make sure public transport remains an affordable option
  • Commitments to spend more on schemes to enable cycling and walking than on road building
  • Maintenance of footpaths and cycleways to be improved

Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said: "Although we welcome the creation of the document, we are proposing ambitious and progressive measures that need to be included and will continue to put pressure on the county council to deliver what’s best for Norwich.

Mike Stonard, Norwich City Councils cabinet member with responsibility for the Transport for Norwich

Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth. - Credit: Archant

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“It will only be after the county council approves the final version of the strategy that we can decide whether to formally support it, and this will depend on the extent to which our comments have been considered and addressed.”

Martin Wilby, chair of the Transport for Norwich joint committee and the county council's cabinet Member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said: “We welcome the city council’s response, as this consultation is a vital step to make sure the views of our partners, stakeholders and the general public are taken into account before the final strategy is agreed, and detailed action plan developed.

"There are many challenges on the road ahead for the growing Greater Norwich area.

"Front and centre is the need to cut carbon, reduce congestion and boost air quality.

"Our aim is to limit impacts on the environment while supporting Norfolk’s economy and ensuring our communities are set up to cope with planned growth.

"We need to balance the needs of journeys made around the city, as well as people accessing Norwich from outside, and we want to build on the huge improvements already made to public transport journey times and reliability, as well as the provision of even more high quality cycling and walking infrastructure and low emission buses."

Analysis

It is no surprise Norwich City Council's Labour-controlled cabinet has issues with County Hall's Transport for Norwich Strategy.

From the 1970s, up until March last year, it was the city council, not the Conservative-controlled county council, which was responsible for roads around Norwich.

That came to a dramatic end when county councillors decided to terminate that arrangement amid claims recent changes meant Norwich had "ground to a halt".

That decision still rankles at City Hall, where councillors feel they should be the ones to determine what happens with the city's roads.

That played a part in the city council's decision to withdraw its 'in principle' support for the Western Link, which the county council wants to build to connect the A47 to the Northern Distributor Road.

Mr Stonard had said support was dependent on conditions, including an environmentally progressive strategy, being met.

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