A47 upgrade is ‘essential’, King’s Lynn MP warns

Latest traffic news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
Latest traffic news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter

Lynn’s MP has pleaded for ministers not to dash the area’s hopes of improved road links and back a plan to turn the A47 into a dual carriageway.

Politicians from across the region set out the case for improvements to the route during a debate in Westminster on Wednesday.

And the government has hinted the campaign may pay off when road spending plans are finalised later this year.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham told the debate that hopes of significant improvements to the road had been raised from as long ago as the opening of the South Lynn bypass, which is a dual carriageway, in 1978.

He pointed out that a 1988 government document had pledged the route would be dualled by the year 2000 and claimed successive governments had paid insufficient attention to it .

And, despite the benefits of local schemes such as the expansion of the stretch between Tilney All Saints and Wisbech, he argued that a whole route strategy, with a goal of dualling the whole length of the route between Peterborough and Lowestoft, was needed.

“Now that the A11 is nearly completed, it is essential we turn our attention to the A47”, he said.

“We have a very strong case and I hope the minister accepts it.”

Broadland MP Keith Simpson, who called the debate, said the provision for future housing development around several towns along the A47, including Lynn, would only make existing difficulties worse

And Mr Bellingham also reiterated calls, first reported in the Lynn News last month, for speed limits in East Winch, where three people were killed in a collision in March, and Middleton, where two people were seriously hurt in a crash last month, to be reduced to 40 and 30 miles per hour respectively.

He said the A47 had the effect of cutting some communities, such as Middleton, in half and suggested safety problems may be made worse by the “sporadic” nature of the current dual carriageway sections.

The A47 is one of six major routes which are currently being assessed by the government. An announcement on which roads will get funding is expected this autumn.

But roads minister Robert Goodwill, who sought to reassure MPs that the whole route was being examined amid fears that the section between Swaffham and Dereham had been overlooked, insisted that the A47 was not fighting rival schemes for a single pot of government money.

He said: “This is not a competition where there is only one winner and I hazard to suggest there will be a degree of success in all the areas we have identified.

He paid tribute to the A47 Alliance of politicians and business leaders for their work to set out the case for dualling the route, which supporters claim could generate up to £1 billion a year in economic benefits for the region.

And he pledged the government would work with local representatives on current and future transport issues.