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Anger at ‘moving of goal-posts’ over millions for city transport changes

Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Archant

Indications that the Norwich area will get a far smaller share of cash for transport changes than had been hoped have been branded “incredibly disappointing” by leaders at City Hall.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, at the new A140 Hempnall roundabout. Picture: Simon ParkinMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, at the new A140 Hempnall roundabout. Picture: Simon Parkin

As reported, council officers had lodged bids for £75m, £90m or £162m from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund - only to learn it would have to share £117m split with two other cities.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith then revealed she had been told Norwich would get around £32m - although the county council insists the final allocation is “by no means decided”.

However, Mike Stonard, cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth at Norwich City Council - which had joined up with the county council to bid for the money, said he was “incredibly disappointed” and said “the goal-posts have moved”.

He said: “The hope was that Norwich would receive significant funding to really transform our transport and highways network so that it is truly modern - a leader for its smart clean and efficient public transport and a great city for walking and cycling.”

Mr Stonard said £32m was “not an insignificant sum”, which would enable “some very important projects to happen”.

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But he said: “It is incredibly disappointing as it falls far below the amount we had good reason to believe we would receive based on the strength of positive feedback to our initial proposals.

“It very much feels as though the goal-posts have moved along the way and Norwich is being underfunded.

“We will continue, however, to work with our county colleagues to set out which projects are the priority for any final submission to the Department for Transport.”

However, the county council, which has yet to have the share confirmed by the government, is still hoping for more.

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, previously said: “Any investment in local infrastructure should be welcomed, particularly in the current climate, but the allocation of this funding is by no means decided.

“We are still working with the Department for Transport to develop our business case and discuss how Norwich’s share of the Transforming Cities Fund could be used to best effect, whilst working with bus operators to maximise the potential for additional investment.”


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