Government should spend £100 million to improve A47 in West Norfolk, new report says

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More than £100 million should be spent to upgrade two vital stretches of the main route through West Norfolk, politicians and business leaders have claimed.

Members of the A47 Alliance, who will hold talks with the government today, Tuesday February 11, set out their case for ministers to commit to improvements during a meeting in Lynn yesterday.

The meeting opened less than two hours after four people, including two children, had been taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with minor injuries following a five-vehicle crash on the A47 at Tilney All Saints.

The road was closed for more than two hours after the collision, which happened at around 8.20am, while drivers were forced to divert through the village away from the scene.

The alliance, which includes MPs, representatives of county and district councils plus local enterprise partnerships covering Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk, has highlighted almost 20 schemes along the route between Peterborough and Yarmouth which it says should be funded.

A booklet called Gateway To Growth, which was unveiled at yesterday’s meeting, said: “The poor quality and unreliability of parts of the route means it does not function as the ‘gateway to growth’ it should be.”

The alliance wants £127 million to be spent on the route over the next three years, including up to £30 million for improvements to the Hardwick, Saddlebow and Pullover junctions in Lynn.

The brochure estimates that the work would help to create 750 new jobs and generate £19 million extra economic output from the town every year.

The report also calls for £9 million to be spent on improvements to junctions on the Wisbech bypass, which the alliance says would create 1,500 jobs and generate more than £50 million a year of additional economic output.

The booklet also lists a proposed bypass for the villages of Middleton and East Winch, which is estimated would cost £75 million, and a dualling of the stretch between Wisbech and Thorney, which is likely to cost around £79 million, as long-term aims for the period after 2021.

Both schemes would improve journey times and the reliability of the road, the brochure said.

Alliance members, led by chairman David Harrison, will meet roads minister Robert Goodwill in London today to make the case for government investment in the road.

Mr Harrison, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “For the first time we have got all the local authorities along the route working with business, MPs and the Local Enterprise Partnerships to put their weight behind a realistic improvement plan.

“In the end the whole route from Peterborough to Lowestoft needs to be fully dualled, but we know which stretches should come first.

“Investing in the A47 is not only vital for the future prosperity of the eastern counties. It is also tremendously good value for the country, delivering over 15,000 new jobs in 20 years, boosting economic output by over £600m a year and ensuring our region can play its full part in sustained economic recovery.

“The Government seems to be listening, and that is very encouraging, but we must not slacken our efforts so I welcome the opportunity to talk to Robert Goodwill.”