MP calls for Acle Straight improvements
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012
Fresh pressure is to be mounted to convince the government that changes need to be made to the A47 Acle Straight in order to save people's lives.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond has said he will visit Norfolk to run the rule over the A47, following a campaign calling for investment in the road.
And Brandon Lewis (pictured), the Great Yarmouth MP, has invited Mr Hammond to head to the seaside town to see for himself the dangers caused by the roadside ditches along the Acle Straight section of the A47.
Mr Lewis said: 'I have been pushing for alterations to the Acle Straight since becoming the local MP.
'The number of accidents along this stretch of road speaks for itself – I hope to impress the importance of improvements on Mr Hammond when he comes to Great Yarmouth.'
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While Mr Hammond has said the A47 is 'ideally placed' to secure funding, Mr Lewis might have a fight on his hands to convince him that the Acle Straight ditches issue should be a priority.
In a letter sent to Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman in March, Mr Hammond wrote: 'Previous decisions for a trial to relocate the ditches could not be justified when the prospect of substantive improvements was uncertain. The [Highways] Agency wrote to the Local Enterprise Partnership in June 2012 confirming that this proposal would not be progressed for the foreseeable future.'
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East Anglian political and business leaders recently launched the Gateway to Growth campaign to secure A47 upgrades, which they say could generate nearly 10,000 jobs, add £390m to the region's economy and attract £800m of private investment.
Their calls were given fresh impetus after the death of eight people on the road since Christmas Eve.
Earlier this month, hopes that the A47 could be next in line for government road cash were boosted after reports named it as one of three schemes being considered by ministers. According to national newspaper reports, the road was identified alongside the A1 north of Newcastle and the A303 in south-west England, as in with a chance for a slice of £3bn infrastructure spending.
The Department of Transport has so far refused to confirm or deny the report and said announcements on future spending would not be made until after the spending review in June.
Business secretary Vince Cable, on a visit to Norfolk this month, said the solution to the road's safety record could be to part-fund improvements from the £15.9m Growing Places Fund – a slice of cash awarded to the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.