Cash squeeze for Norwich road safety schemes
New road safety schemes in Norwich look set to be dramatically scaled back because government cuts are likely to severely restrict the cash available to pay for them, council bosses have warned.
Last year just under �1.4m was available to pay for schemes in Norwich such as pedestrian crossings, junction improvements, new traffic lights and cycle paths.
But council bosses have warned next year's budget could be 'considerably lower' and they will have to cap any individual scheme at �100,000 to ensure what little money is available can be spread across the city.
That will be particularly bad news for families hoping to get new pedestrian crossings, because those schemes usually cost more than �100,000.
At a meeting of Norwich Highways Committee, made up of city and county councillors, concerns over the lack of cash which will be available were raised as the committee outlined its transport projects programme for 2010/11.
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Sixteen schemes have been included on the list, each given a priority from one to five. There are two pedestrian crossings on the list - in Bluebell Road and Ipswich Road - which had been deferred from the current list, while there is just one speed management scheme - for Harvey Lane in Thorpe Hamlet.
City council transportation manager Joanne Deverick said: 'There is no guarantee of how many of these schemes can be funded.'
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Last year �1.37m was allocated with a further �500,000 made available through the Norwich Area Transport Strategy Implementation Plan, but when the new government announced a 25pc cut in a grant in the middle of the year the cash available was cut to �1m and �375,000.
Suggesting the cap of �100,000, Ms Deverick said: 'It is the belief of officers that even the most optimistic settlement will not see funding levels on a par with the current year and they are likely to be considerably lower.'
'The pedestrian crossing programme is one that is particularly hit by the �100,000 cap, as any stand alone signalled crossing is likely to cost in excess of �100,000, while a signalled junction improvement to provide pedestrian crossing facilities will be at least �200,000.'
The county council, which passes on the money for schemes in Norwich, is unlikely to find out what its overall budget from the Department for Transport will be until the end of the year.
Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'It is really disappointing that there is such uncertainty about what money there is going to be.
'There are lots of safety schemes which make good common sense which are going to go unfunded. There are also schemes, which would add to the economy and create jobs.
'Some of them are up and ready to go and would do a significant service to the city and to sit and listen that there is not the money for those schemes is extremely frustrating.'
One person who has been campaigning to get a crossing made safer is Jaide-Marie Burn, 28, from Knowland Grove. In September her three-year-old son Rylie was hit by a car as he tried to use the zebra crossing in Larkman Lane.
She had been calling for the crossing to be upgraded to include traffic lights and said she was disappointed to hear a lack of cash meant such improvements were unlikely to happen.
She said: 'There have been lots of accidents in that road. My kids will still not cross there because they are so scared.'
Rupert Read, Green city councillor for Wensum ward, said: 'The cuts are now in our faces. There are pedestrian crossings which are not going to happen which is awful. It is just going to get worse and worse.'
• Are you trying to get road safety improvements where you live? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org