Government urged not to ‘neglect’ West Norfolk as borough misses out on £300 million A47 investment

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A £300 million programme of improvements to the A47 was unveiled yesterday, but West Norfolk will not be seeing a single penny of the cash.

The announcement prompted a call for the borough not to be “neglected” in future spending rounds, though MPs have welcomed the cash injection.

Most of the money will go towards schemes that, when completed, will create a continuous 30 mile stretch of dual carriageway from Dereham to Acle.

There will also be improvements to key junctions in Yarmouth, at Guyhirn, near Wisbech, and a dualling of the stretch between Wansford and Sutton, near Peterborough.

But, speaking during a planning committee meeting yesterday, borough councillor Avril Wright asked whether current and future developments on and close to the route around West Norfolk could be used to bring “leverage” over future investment.

Committee chairman Vivienne Spikings, who is also vice-chairman of the A47 Alliance which lobbies for improvements to the road, said it was “a great shame” that more money was not available to the road.

The alliance has identified around 20 sites along the route, short of the long-term goal of a continuous dual carriageway, that it believes require urgent investment.

The list includes the stretch between the Pullover and Hardwick roundabouts in Lynn and, as a longer term aspiration, a bypass for the villages of Middleton and East Winch.

And Mrs Spikings said: “Let’s hope in the future we are not on the neglected part.”

But South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said the investment announcement was “fantastic news.”

She said: “Millions of pounds invested in Norfolk protects employment and encourages growth. It will also be a fantastic boost for future job creation, tourism and educational opportunities across the whole of the county with full dualling of the A47 very much the long term aim.”

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham also welcomed the investment, which forms part of a £15 billion plan to improve roads across the country.

He pointed out West Norfolk already has the longest stretch of dual carriageway on the A47 outside Norwich, on the section between the Tilney All Saints roundabout and Wisbech.

And he pledged to continue lobbying for a full dualling of the road.