Web petition on Long Stratton bypass

CELIA WIGG A plea for government funding for the A140 Long Stratton bypass has moved up a gear with motorists being urged to sign an online petition to prime minister Tony Blair.

CELIA WIGG

A plea for government funding for the A140 Long Stratton bypass has moved up a gear with motorists being urged to sign an online petition to prime minister Tony Blair.

One thousand people have already pledged support through the email petition launched last month and quickly followed by a paper version for those without internet access.

But resident Jason Bunn, who is spearheading the initiative, is keen to widen the net and has put up posters at each end of village to alert passing motorists whose journeys are plagued by delays at the notorious traffic bottleneck on the main route between Norwich and Ipswich.

Although Norfolk County Council has spent £1m developing plans and the bypass is ready to go, the scheme has not been included in the East of England's priority transport for the next 10 years.

There are fears it may never be built under the current funding system, so campaigners are putting pressure on Mr Blair to make money available to try and ensure the £21m-plus relief road can be constructed immediately.

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"I started the e-petition after spending an hour doing the five miles to get home from work again," said Mr Bunn, who lives in The Street.

"There are now 900 people who have signed online, 90 at South Norfolk Council on the paper petition and 50 at my business SignLine, so we've reached 1,000 signatories. That's a great response in four weeks, two of which I didn't tell a soul about it."

The long-awaited relief road would remove an estimated 18,000 vehicles daily from the centre of Long Stratton, reducing the travel time for road users and improving the quality of life for residents and workers whose businesses are in the vicinity.

"Research shows that living within 500m of a busy road will affect you and your children's health, very similar to smoking," said Mr Bunn.

"How damaging is the same level of pollution trapped within the buildings of the street and the low lying area it goes down into? Children are walking to school within half to one metre of articulated lorries travelling at up to 40mph.

"You can't get away with that on a construction site where there are only grown men, so why is it okay here on such a scale?"

The petition is backed by Adrian Gunson, county council spokesman for planning and transport, and council chairman Andrew Lansdell.

Campaigners are planning to hold a signing day in a local layby on the A140. Villagers can help by putting up copies of the notice, available by email at Jason@signsandprinting.co.uk, or by calling Mr Bunn on 01379 677699.

To sign online, visit http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/StrattonBypass.