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Greens fail to convince Norwich City Council to oppose Norwich Northern Distributor Road's Western Link

PUBLISHED: 09:11 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:20 30 November 2017

The section of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road from the A1067 to A140 is now open.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The section of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road from the A1067 to A140 is now open. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Norwich City Council has refused to oppose the spending of more public money to investigate the so-called Western Link of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road.

Martin Schmierer, leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council.  PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYMartin Schmierer, leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council has made that link, which would connect the road to the A47 to the west of the city a priority.

If it goes ahead, then it could see a £160m viaduct built over the Wensum Valley - a site of special scientific interest.

But the Greens put forward a motion at tonight’s full city council for City Hall to oppose further spending - and to push for previously promised bus rapid transit routes to be prioritised.

Denise Carlo, Green councillor for Nelson Ward, said: “Public Transport is vital, firstly for economic reasons and for social inclusion.”

But Labour amended the motion, deleting reference to opposing the spending investigating the western link.

Mike Stonard, Labour’s cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said it was “narrow minded and short-sighted” to oppose the Western Link without considering the potential benefits.

He said it would be foolish to tie the council into opposing the road before considering all the implications of the link.

The Greens then tried to withdraw their motion, but were voted down so Labour’s amended version was agreed. The Greens ended up abstaining from voting.

After the meeting, Green group leader Martin Schmierer, said: “We are glad Labour agree that bus services are vital for the local area.

“However, this motion was intended to be about prioritising them for funding. Without a clear statement that public transport takes priority, money will continue to be poured into expensive road schemes while bus funding is cut.

“As with so many issues, Labour are trying to have their cake and eat it. They make nice-sounding vague statements about buses, while also backing road schemes that risk locking us in to a polluted, car-dominated future.

“In the end, their amendment meant that this motion was so far from our original intention that we couldn’t support it. From being a statement opposing a Wensum Valley crossing, it turned into one supporting it provided some conditions are met.”

The bill for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road, which will stretch from the A47 at Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road when complete is now an estimated £205m - and council officers say they cannot guarantee it will not rise further.

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