MPs express their frustration at long wait for £300m A47 upgrade
PUBLISHED: 08:15 31 July 2015 | UPDATED: 14:33 31 July 2015
(C) Archant Norfolk 2015
MPs have said they are “horrified” that it could take up to eight years for the £300m A47 upgrade to be finished.
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has written to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to say the proposed timetable is “not acceptable”, demanding that Highways England returns with an “updated and realistic” timetable for the work to be started. In his first interview since taking on the flagship A47 project, Highways England manager Oluwole Odetola warned that road building was a “hugely complex task” and it was likely to be five years before diggers could move in, with a further three years of construction work set to take place.
Six schemes were give the green light in the Autumn Statement last year, with £300m found by chancellor George Osborne for the project, which became a flagship part of the Conservative election manifesto for the East.
These include dualling from North Tuddenham to Easton, Blofield to North Burlingham and Wansford to Sutton in Cambridgeshire. In his letter to the Department for Transport, Mr Lewis said: “As you will be aware, the government has allocated £300m for this work to take place, with the expectation that it would be completed in this parliament. Constituents have been asking for years when the work will take place for traffic improvements as well as safety issues.”
He said Highways England was “dragging its feet” on the design of the road. Mr Lewis said: “The interview given was extremely unhelpful and these timescales are frankly laughable. Myself and fellow East of England Conservative MPs, as well as our constituents, are horrified that Highways England have given a projected eight years for this work to be completed, especially as we have been campaigning on this issue for a number of years.”
Highways England said the timescale had always been set out in the road investment plan, but Broadland MP Keith Simpson said MPs would call an urgent meeting with the roads minister when they returned after the summer.
Mr Simpson said: “My heart sinks because I think back 18 years on the A47. I spent many years on the A47 Alliance committee. Whilst I accept it is a major project and you have to do all kinds of modelling and everything else.
“Certainly as a consequence of the stuff that has been coming out of the last few months, we politicians have got to really lean on ministers on this.
“I just think it is unacceptable.
“The fact is that the chancellor has given it the go-ahead, it hasn’t been cancelled despite the austerity moves.
“As soon as we get back after the summer break, we will get as many of us together as possible and go in and see the roads minister and express our dismay at the proposed timetable.”
Should the A47 upgrade be speeded up? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk