Fresh decision due over cash for controversial £178.5m Norfolk road
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
Work on the Norwich Northern Distributor Road could get under way later this month, if county councillors agree again to plug a funding gap for the scheme.
A key decision over how to pay for the controversial £178.5m road is to be taken again tomorrow –following a legal challenge.
The Wensum Valley Alliance launched legal proceedings over a decision made by the council to pay for the road, which would stretch from the A47 at Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road.
Andrew Cawdron, parish councillor in Great and Little Plumstead, launched a bid for a judicial review on behalf of the alliance.
He claims a council meeting – where councillors agreed to put forward £10m towards a £30m funding gap after the cost of the road escalated – was unlawful.
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At that meeting, council officers admitted an error had been made in its benchmarking over whether the construction inflation costs were reasonable.
Despite calls by Green councillors to defer making a decision until councillors had a chance to study the correct information, the council still voted on the issue.
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Following the legal challenge, the council decided, rather than contesting it, to hold another full council meeting to make a decision again.
Council officers are recommending councillors agree to plug the funding gap, with £10.4m from the highways budget. That figure is higher than the £9.9m agreed at the last meeting. Officers say £500,000 more is needed as a contingency in case the delay in starting work has increased construction costs.
Critics have asked why the NDR could not stop at the A140 – a stretch which is already fully funded – which would take away the need to put in extra cash.
But council officers argue that would require a fundamental re-assessment of the scheme's effects and benefits, which could put funding at risk.
Officers say, if councillors agree to the funding, then the work will start later this month.
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