Online petition demands bypass

CELIA WIGG Pressure is being put on the government to provide funding for the A140 Long Stratton bypass through an online petition to Tony Blair. More than 500 people and local businesses have signed up to the campaign.

CELIA WIGG

Pressure is being put on the government to provide funding for the A140 Long Stratton bypass through an on-line petition to Tony Blair.

More than 500 people and local businesses have signed up to the campaign, launched on Downing Street's own website by villager Jason Bunn, who lives in The Street - officially recognised as south Norfolk's most-polluted road because of the exhaust fumes from up to 18,000 vehicles daily.

Residents have been campaigning for Long Stratton to be bypassed for decades, long before it became a notorious bottleneck.

But though the county council has spent more than £1m developing plans for the much-needed relief road, it has not been included in the East of England's list of priority transport projects for the next 10 years. This has prompted fears that the £21m-plus dual carriageway may never be built under the current funding process.

Mr Bunn said: "This is a badly needed improvement to the A140 for both road users and the community it passes through at Long Stratton. The bypass is described as ready to go with research, land purchases, route etc all in place. The only factor missing is the funding. We petition the prime minister to put funding into place and construct this bypass immediately."

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Signatories include Richard Rockliffe, Norfolk County Council's portfolio holder for economic development, and parish council chairman Andrew Lansdell, with hundreds more set to join the on-line campaign which deadlines on May 9.

There will be a further round of regional allocations for road improvements in two years' time. But Long Stratton may well be left out in the cold as, under new government rules introduced in 2004, village bypasses have to compete against larger regional schemes such as the proposed dualling of the A11 between Barton Mills/Five Ways roundabout and Thetford.

Adrian Gunson, county council' cabinet member for planning and transport, said: "I am certainly in favour of the bypass and have been pushing for it for years, and I am urging for the rules to be changed so the region will have pots of money for smaller schemes like Long Stratton.

"I support any local measures to press the case for the bypass. I sympathise with residents enormously and I know the problems at Hempnall crossroads which was going to be a roundabout under the scheme. At the moment people have to dice with death when they turn right."

Mr Bunn will this week meet South Norfolk Council to discuss raising awareness of the petition, and there are plans to have a paper version at the authority's Long Stratton offices for those without internet access.

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ StrattonBypass