Norfolk bus network not among first wave of Local Sustainable Transport Fund grants

Plans to improve Norwich's bus network have suffered a set back, but one that is hoped will only be temporary.

Following on from being handed �2.6m from the government's Better Bus Area Fund in March, Norfolk County Council also made a bid for �4.1m from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) money.

The �2.6m that has already been secured will see St Stephens Street closed to general traffic, a new bus lane for Grapes Hill, smart tickets for park and ride buses and the introduction of a reduced fare for 16 to 19-year-olds who use buses.

The LSTF money would boost the city's bus network further by seeing Chapel Field North made two-way for buses and cars travelling down Westlegate stopped from carrying on into Rampant Horse Street, but instead forced right into Red Lion Street.

But the county council's bid was not included in the first wave of successful bids announced by the Department for Transport (DFT) yesterday, which saw �112.941m awarded to 30 bids.

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Norfolk's bid remains in the 'projects still to be announced' list but Graham Plant, county council cabinet member for planning and transportation, insists it is not a cause for concern.

He said: 'Clearly we were hoping to hear we had secured funding, but we have been assured that the delay is simply because of the complexity of some bids.

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'We know that our Norfolk bid will bring strong economic and social benefits, providing travel and transport improvements that will boost growth and improve access to jobs.

'We remain optimistic that when the announcement is made, likely to be in June, it will be good news.'

The 'Connecting Norfolk to Growth' bid, which has been supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, is looking for �4.1m from the LSTF to go towards a package worth �5.3m over the next three years.

As well as the Norwich improvements, it is hoped the money can be used to improve access to jobs and services in a number of deprived areas of the county along the A1065 between Thetford and Fakenham, and to boost growth opportunities along the A11 between Thetford and Norwich.

This would include: new 'demand-responsive' transport services, including an A1065-based flexibus; improvements at public transport interchanges in two towns; an enhanced county-wide Wheels to Work moped scheme; and four new cycle schemes for employment areas in towns and small improvements to encourage cycling to work and schools.

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