Westminster meeting plans to get A47 money

Politicians, officials and business leaders from Norfolk met in Westminster last night to plot a strategy aimed at winning government financial backing to upgrade the A47.

MP for Great Yarmouth Brandon Lewis, who helped organise the meeting, said the campaign to get the key route through Norfolk improved was united, focussed and now at a crucial moment.

He told the Eastern Daily Press after the gathering: 'The idea behind the meeting was to bring everyone up to date on what's happening. We've got the A11 upgraded and now we have to work meaningfully towards the A47.

'Part of the challenge is that as far as the government is concerned there is not a lot of background work that has been done on the A47.

'So we now have to go away and build up a body of work that shows clearly why the A47 is so important.'

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A short report published by Norfolk County Council in April of this year suggested that a number of limited improvements along the road could facilitate an extra 10,000 jobs in the county, with the figure potentially jumping higher if a broad upgrade was undertaken.

The report did not attempt to quantify just how much such an upgrade would cost, other than to say it could be 'much in excess of �200m'.

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Mr Lewis explained that those involved in the campaign would now have to come up with more detailed documents on how the road project could be completed.

That would include looking at a definite cost, timescale and exploring what the opportunities might be to lever private sector funding in to help pay for the scheme.

The meeting was attended by Broadland MP Keith Simpson, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, Norwich South MP Simon Wright and a representative of South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss.

Meanwhile Graham Plant and Mike Jackson, cabinet member for planning and the director of planning at the county council, also attended the meeting along with representatives of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

The campaign group will make its case to transport minister Mike Penning at a meeting later this year in September, meanwhile Mr Lewis said he would attempt to get a House of Commons debate scheduled on the issue.

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