Minister asked to intervene over A47 roundabout concerns

Eight parishes in mid-Norfolk have joined together to raise their concerns at the highest level about the growing problem of congestion and rat-running that has arisen since the creation of a new roundabout on the A47.

The villages of Barnham Broom, East Tuddenham, Hockering, Honingham, Marlingford and Colton, Mattishall, Weston Longville and Yaxham have penned a joint letter to transport secretary Philip Hammond calling for his intervention to ensure a meeting with the Highways Agency is held without delay.

Their concerns revolve around the new roundabout where the C539 Mattishall Road meets the A47 at the eastern end of Honingham.

Before it opened two years ago the parishes warned the Highways Agency that rat-running was likely to result but they said their concerns were ignored.

Their letter to Mr Hammond said: 'Exactly as locals feared the roundabout has created substantial congestion and delays with large numbers of vehicles rat-running through some villages, particularly Honingham, during peak periods.'

Following a meeting with the Highways Agency in March they were assured that their problems would be investigated and a further meeting would be held to discuss proposed solutions.

The promised meeting has yet to be arranged and the parishes said they feel they have been 'fobbed off'.

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Julian Blackmore, chairman of Marlingford parish council and who drafted the letter, said local opinion and knowledge seems to have been brushed aside.

'I don't think anyone opposed improving that junction but the problems were predicted and we have been proved right,' he said.

'The most satisfactory solution would be for a dual carriageway drawing two lanes around the roundabout so traffic can merge rather than hold up the A47,'

Honingham residents are particularly affected by rat-running and the chairman of the parish council Brian Winchester said traffic surveys showed a worrying increase.

'On September 29, between 7.45am and 8am there were 80 cars through the village,' he said. The following quarter of an hour saw 76 cars. It is getting worse. At that time of the morning there are school buses pulling up and people in the village trying to get out of their own driveways to go to work or take children to school.

'Then as these cars come up to the roundabout on the Mattishall Road it aggravates the tailbacks on the A47. The authorities don't seem to want to know and people are getting very angry.'

A Highways Agency spokesman said: 'The Highways Agency remains committed to finding a solution to the problems of congestion on the A47 at Mattishall Road. We have already been in discussion with Norfolk County Council regarding possible options which include both short term and long term solutions. As soon as the options have been finalised, the Agency will hold a meeting with affected parish councils, which we expect to be held in late November/early December.'

The eight parishes have a meeting with Norfolk County Council's highways department on Friday, October 22 at 7.30pm at Honingham village hall.