Campaigners hopeful of funds for A47 improvements

The launch of the A47 improvements campaign at the Royal Norfolk Showground. MP for Broadland, Keith

The launch of the A47 improvements campaign at the Royal Norfolk Showground. MP for Broadland, Keith Simpson, front 2nd left, is greeted after arriving during his journey along the A47, by, from left front, Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation; Mike Jackson, director for planning and transportation; George freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk; and Davina Tanner, general manager of the Chapelfield Shopping Centre and board member of the LEP. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

MPs and campaigners are hopeful that funds to improve the A47 could be made available this week.

On Wednesday chancellor George Osborne will announce the government's spending plan for 2015-16 and it is thought that improving infrastructure will be a priority.

Despite Mr Osborne being expected to announce £11.5bn in spending cuts, there is hope there could be some investment in Norfolk roads.

National reports have speculated that sought-after improvements to the A47 would be one of a small number of projects given cash in a bid to get the economy moving.

Keith Simpson, MP for Broadland, said: 'I don't know whether any extra funding will be made available but I am hoping for it. When I visited earlier this year with roads minister Stephen Hammond he thought that the A47 would be in the next lot of roads to be looked at. It fitted all the criteria.

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'We have to plan realistically, it is not going to be the big bang where the whole thing will be dual carriageway, but I'm hoping there may be some dualing.

'We've had a series of fatal accidents and some of them can be put down to the stop-start nature of the road.'

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It is estimated that the 'A47 Gateway to Growth' strategy, which envisages a combination of selected dualling and junction improvements, plus a third river crossing in Great Yarmouth, would generate nearly 10,000 jobs and secure an annual £390m increase in economic output as well as attracting private investment worth more than £800m. Cutting journey times by 30 minutes would also be worth £42m a year to road users.

Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, agrees that improvements to Norfolk's infrastructure could make a significant change to the economy.

'The A47 is the artery or backbone of the county,' he said. 'Improvements to the A47 have been a long-standing aspiration for Norfolk County Council but it has been a challenge to get it up the infrastructure agenda.'

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has said that despite what he believes will be a 'very tough spending round' he hopes the A47 will be prioritised.

He added: 'Last year we took the message to government that the A47 is a vital economic artery, from the east coast ports across Norfolk to the Midlands, which has been neglected for years.'

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