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Warnings ‘gold-plated’ Norwich Western Link could spark rise in rat running

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:38 29 July 2020

The route of the proposed Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The route of the proposed Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council

Plans for the Norwich Western Link have been branded “gold plated” and overpriced, as a Norfolk MP came out in support of the scheme.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk Counnty Council. Pic: ArchantSteve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk Counnty Council. Pic: Archant

Norfolk County Council wants to build a 3.8 mile dual carriageway to link the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) with the A47 to the west of Norwich.

And a string of possible changes to roads and footpaths along the route have been revealed - as fresh consultation on the controversial £153m route began on Monday.

The county hall’s Labour group have criticised the scheme’s value for money and warned of “inevitable overruns and delays”.

READ MORE: Road changes mooted as new details about NDR Western Link revealed

The route of the proposed Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.The route of the proposed Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

And Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew welcomed the project as “essential” to help solve the rat-running “blighting” Norfolk.

But a parish councillor has warned a failure to consult on the project jointly with plans to dual the A47 risk sparking an increase in rat running through Ringland.

Nick Adams, Ringland Parish Council chairman, said while they were “broadly supportive” of the council’s proposed local road changes, he was worried about consultations for the A47 and the Western Link schemes being treated as separate issues.

He said it’s likely one of the three routes into Ringland will “become a rat run” and said: “If we were to lose Ringland Lane we would become a cul de sac.”

Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Danielle BoodenBroadland MP Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Danielle Booden

Mr Adams also wants the speed limit on Ringland Lane lowered to 20mph, and added: “We do also want a sensible speed limit.

“We are in broad agreement with the proposals made for the local road changes but it is with provisos. We are looking for a serious commitment on the part of the council to do something abut the speed of the traffic.

READ MORE: Preferred route for Western Link, to connect NDR to A47, is agreed and could cost £153m

“The biggest mistake that I believe is being made is that these impacts are not being consulted as a holistic impact. That’s our biggest single concern.”

Map showing where changes could be made to roads bisected by the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Map showing where changes could be made to roads bisected by the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

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Martin Wilby, county council cabinet member for highways, said: “We know this is something people think is very important to the success of the two projects and I agree. I can reassure people that we’re in very regular contact with Highways England to discuss our work and share information.

“These are projects being led by two different organisations and that will be funded separately, so there are good reasons why some elements need to be managed distinctly. However we absolutely agree that working together wherever possible is the right thing to do to get the best results for the local area and Norfolk.”

READ MORE: MP raises ‘destructive’ issue of rural deprivation in House of Commons

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

While Steve Morphew, Labour group leader, said: “The road is already estimated at £25,000 a metre. For that price you’d expect it to be gold plated, but it doesn’t even include lots of other costs or take account of inevitable delays and overruns and delays.

“We seriously question the value for money compared to many other less environmentally and climate damaging schemes.”

He added: “Post-Covid we can’t just do same old, same old without rethinking our priorities.

“We’re coming out of lockdown with different perspectives on travel to work, the value of clean air and environmental protection.

“The NWL simply fails on all counts. Those suffering rat runs need relief, but it can be done cheaper, quicker and with far less damage leaving capacity to do good rather than harm with the resources saved.”

Conservative Mr Mayhew said: “The council has undertaken extensive consultation on which route to adopt and the chosen route was found to be the best in terms of its impact on local communities, environment, value for money and benefits it will provide to local transport links and safety, by removing rat runs between the A47 and the NDR.

READ MORE: ‘Unaffordable and unjustifiable’ - Labour group adds its voice to NDR western link opposition

“Rat-running and congestion have clogged up minor roads and blighted communities to the west of Norwich for years now. It’s a situation that isn’t good for anyone - residents, commuters or businesses. I think it’s essential the Norwich Western Link is created to finally complete a dual carriageway orbital route around the city that can help people and goods get where they need to go safely and efficiently.”

And Mr Wilby added: “The Western Link is considered a high value for money project, according to the Department for Transport’s own criteria.

“The estimated cost includes all elements we need to factor in, including inflation and proposals we’re asking for views on.”

He said: “A combination of population growth and the need to support our key industries which rely on good transport links, such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing, means investing in infrastructure projects like the Western Link now is vital to the county’s future success.”

READ MORE: Road changes mooted as new details about NDR Western Link revealed

The eight week Local Access Consultation will run until Sunday, September 20. People can see information and respond via www.norfolk.gov.uk/nwl

People can also request a consultation brochure and paper questionnaire are posted to them by ringing 0344 800 8020 or emailing norwichwesternlink@norfolk.gov.uk


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