Long Stratton gets bypass - AA says

It was the sight residents of Long Stratton have been dreaming about for the last 70 years.For spread out on the pages of the new AA 2008 route map lay the village's long-awaited bypass.

It was the sight residents of Long Stratton have been dreaming about for the last 70 years.

For spread out on the pages of the new AA 2008 route map lay the village's long-awaited bypass.

Marked as a “road under construction,” residents could have been forgiven for uncorking the champagne and dancing in the street.

But last night it emerged that it was all a mistake, with the £25m scheme still on hold because of funding issues.

David Thornton, chairman of Long Stratton's bypass committee, described the inclusion of the road in the new map as a “kick in the teeth”.

He said: “Presumably the AA has got hold of some out-of-date information. I am sure it isn't anything more than that. But it is a kick in the teeth to see the road in print. If only it was there in reality”.

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Last June it emerged that despite being granted planning consent, work could not start on the bypass because it had not been included in the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) priority transport programme for the next 10 years.

The announcement came as a massive blow to campaigners who have fought hard for the bypass for decades.

Adrian Gunson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for planning and transportation, agreed with Mr Thornton that the inclusion of the bypass in the map was a mistake.

“This is wrong,” he said. “We do not know when the road will be under construction.”

Mr Gunson explained that the scheme ground to a halt after changes were made to the way in which funding is provided.

He said: “We thought the road was coming in 2005 when we should have got money allocated under the local transport plan, which is when the government gave money direct to each county. But then the rules were changed and money was given to the region to prioritise. This left the scheme competing with the A11 and other big road schemes in places like Essex and Hertfordshire.”

Mr Gunson said that the campaigners had done all they could at a local level to get the bypass built.

“There is nothing else we can do,” he said. “The bypass is still needed. We have been battling for years to get it and we will get it eventually. The road is crucial. It's an important strategic route from Norwich to Ipswich and Colchester.”

The idea of a bypass at Long Stratton was first mooted in 1937, but at the time it was feared the road would clash with a housing project. Since then campaigners have fought hard for the road, but 70 years on and it has still not been built.

The AA was unavailable for comment last night.

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