Purfleet, by Mark Leslie, Editor, March 13, 2017
Once again the campaign group pushing for improvements on the A47 has mounted a renewed push for dualling on various pinch-points on the trunk road. They are calling for the Government to spend money to improve the road from Tilney All Saints to East Winch. Before the last election, a pledge was made to spend £300 million on the road, but none of that was in West Norfolk. Now the A47 Alliance has the next tranche of improvements to be approved – also including the Hardwick flyover. Well, as the kids say these days, good luck with that. The A47 seems to be a Cinderella of a trunk road, where every penny spent seems to have to be wrung out of the Treasury’s coffers. Indeed, it seems odd that for a road so obviously scorned by central government that they have chosen to expand its ‘territory’ by rebranding part of the A12 in the Lowestoft area, as the A47. I certainly hold the point of view that when it comes to roads, there is no magic panacea for traffic congestion. And rather like Kevin Costner’s baseball park in the film Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come”. Except for in this case, that’s not good ... if you build roads, they will rapidly get filled up with traffic, so that often you feel you are no better off. (The exception to this are bypasses, which obviously have a specific task of removing traffic from one place – residential streets – and moving it out of town.) But environmental considerations aside, there has to be a certain standard set for certain roads, and A-roads would seem to be top of that list. Motorways are not constructed with less than three-lanes and a hard shoulder (well, we’ll ignore the start of the M11 which is only dualled) and A-roads should not be less than dual carriageways. These are essential arteries for the nation, carrying thousands of tonnes of freight and other cargo from the East Coast ports to the Midlands and beyond, let alone the millions of car journeys undertaken week-in and week out in Norfolk alone. Those unfortunate to be travelling on the A47 last week will know just how far short it falls at present in West Norfolk. On Monday there were roadworks at Necton, close to the North Pickenham Road, which meant temporary traffic lights narrowed the road down to one lane. This meant traffic in the morning heading towards Lynn was held up for an hour. Then, just two days later, a lorry broke down on the McDonald’s roundabout at Swaffham. This again caused tailbacks well beyond Little Fransham and delays in the Lynn direction of getting on for an hour. This is terrible. But when Friday morning bin collections cause not inconsiderable hold-ups it is only to be expected. I’d strongly argue for better public transport to take cars off the road, but it is undeniable that we need this road dualled, too.