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£3m price tag rules out Norwich roundabout improvement

The Heartsease roundabout in Plumstead Road, Norwich
. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The Heartsease roundabout in Plumstead Road, Norwich . PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

Cash-strapped councillors have revealed they cannot afford to spend the £3m needed to make a problem-plagued Norwich roundabout safer - because just £2m is available for improvements across the whole county.

The Heartsease roundabout has been named as one of the highest priorities for new pedestrian crossing improvements in the city.

But council officers have said it would cost more than £3m to make the roundabout safer and members of Norwich Highways Agency committee has said that is beyond their means.

And councillors took a swipe at Norwich North’s Conservative MP Chloe Smith, who had written to the committee asking them to look into the issue after she received a number of complaints about the lack of crossings near the roundabout.

In a letter sent back to the MP, the committee’s Conservative chairman Tony Adams and Labour vice-chairman Mike Stonard, blamed Ms Smith’s government for the lack of cash.

They said the committee was aware of the issues, but that extra land would have to be obtained to make the roundabout safer, which pushed up the cost of the scheme too high.

They said providing low cost crossings on the approaches to the roundabout had also been ruled out, as that would only add to congestion and would lead to an increase in rat-running on nearby roads.

The pair wrote: “A comprehensive solution addressing both the crossing and congestion issues is the only viable solution.

“Norwich Highways Agency is not in a position to carry out improvement to the Heartsease roundabout, despite it being a high priority, as it does not have the funding available to meet the costs of an effective scheme.

“This is a direct consequence of the coalition government’s reduction in its capital and revenue support grant to Norfolk County Council over the last three years and over the next three years.

“As a result of the reduction in the capital grant, the county council has already prioritised maintenance of the existing assets, consequently across the whole county there is only £2m per year available for improvements.

“Therefore it is difficult that schemes are brought forward to meet public demand.”

Bert Bremner, Labour city and county councillor and a member of the committee, said MPs should not be so “cheeky and insensitive” at a time when they were aware of the pressures local authorities are under.

• What do you think? Write to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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