Norfolk County Council suffers �4.1m transport cash blow

An ambitious scheme which would see a major shake-up in the way traffic travels through Norwich city centre has suffered a major blow, after a bid for �4.1m of government cash was rejected.

The money was being sought to transform bus routes through Norwich, including making 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,

Cash would also have been used to improve access to jobs and services along the A1065 between Thetford and Fakenham, and to boost growth opportunities along the A11 between Thetford and Norwich.

Last month, the council's bid was not named in an initial list of projects set to get cash, but officers had hoped it would still secure funding.

However, today (Wednesday) the council was told its bid had been unsuccessful.

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The plans would have gone hand in hand with a �2.6m scheme which did secure government cash earlier this year to close St Stephens Street to general traffic, create a new bus lane for Grapes Hill, introduce smart tickets for park and ride buses and bring in reduced fares for 16 to 19-year-olds who use buses.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation said: 'This is very disappointing because the measures put forward would have enhanced those being developed after our �2.6m Better Bus Area Fund success, and would have accelerated some of the Transport for Norwich initiatives, such as the Chapelfield North bus route, that we want to push forward alongside the development of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road.

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'We will of course want to know why the DfT did not support our bid, but we have to accept that we have done extremely well recently, securing �86.5m towards the NDR, followed by the �2.6m Better Bus Area funding.'

He said the council would also have to look again at the issues around the A1065 and the A11.

But he added: 'I am confident that this announcement is only a temporary setback. We are determined to remove obstacles to prosperity in Norfolk.

'Effective campaigning has already been successful on the A11, and we must continue to press the case for A47 and rail improvements.'

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