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Norfolk has lost money due to delays starting A47 dualling work, says angry deputy leader

PUBLISHED: 09:46 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:25 01 October 2019

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

Highways England

The time it is taking for work to start on £300m of improvements to the A47 through Norfolk has cost the county's economy dear, leading councillors have claimed.

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodGraham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Highways England last month announced it had agreed a contract with Galliford Try for improvements along the A47 from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth.

In Norfolk, one and a half miles of the A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham and around five and a half miles of the A47 between North Tuddenham to Easton will be dualled, while the A47/A11 Thickthorn junction will also be upgraded.

At a meeting of the A47 Alliance, Highways England said work on the Blofield and North Burlingham and Thickthorn schemes was due to start in 2022.

But Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council, said it should have started sooner.

He said: "In 2014, the government awarded that money. It's now 2019 and not a brick has been laid on those projects. It's been five years that the money has sat in a bank account. What we are keen to do is to hold Highways England's feet to the fire.

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"What we don't want is for them to say, now that we are five years in, that the cost is now £350m and they say that they need to take that extra money out of any future funding we get for the next tranche of road improvements.

"The years of inaction mean Norfolk has lost revenue and its ability to generate revenue because of the delays. We had submitted an excellent business case to get that government money and yet we are getting none of the benefits we had worked into that business case."

There is also frustration that Highways England says work on Vauxhall and Gapton roundabouts in Great Yarmouth, due to start in 2018/19 must wait until modelling of the effects of the Third River Crossing.

A planning application for the Blofield and Burlingham dualling was due to be submitted in spring this year, but was not.

People in the area have been pushing for a crossing between North Burlingham and Lingwood to be part of the scheme.

In the summer, a regional delegation went to Westminster to press for money to fully dual the A47 through the next tranche of government cash for roads.

It was part of the Just Dual It! campaign, backed by the EDP, the county council and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.

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