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Councillor blasts bus cash block on West Norfolk

New buses running on a key route through West Norfolk should be the start of a major improvement to services right across the borough, according to a Lynn councillor.

Alexandra Kemp hit out this week after county council chiefs confirmed Norwich is the only area of Norfolk eligible for a share of £5 billion in new government funding.

The policy, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, is primarily aimed at boosting links in urban areas.

More than £5 million has been spent on 19 new Excel buses, like this one seen at Lynn bus station (30846865)
More than £5 million has been spent on 19 new Excel buses, like this one seen at Lynn bus station (30846865)

But Miss Kemp says that discriminates against areas like West Norfolk, where public transport links are known to be limited.

Speaking at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s cabinet on Monday, she said the government’s stance was “completely unacceptable” and urged members to join her in campaigning for the development of a superbus network in West Norfolk.

She said she had written to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, on the issue, adding: “He must back West Norfolk and help a vulnerable area.”

Martin Wilby, the authority’s cabinet member for transport, did not comment on the proposal.

Instead, he said: “We’re setting up a transport steering group in West Norfolk, so I’m sure they’ll look at all modes of transport and this will come in front of them, I’m sure.”

One part of the network which has seen significant investment is the Excel route, which links Lynn and Swaffham with Norwich and Peterborough.

More than £5 million has been spent on a fleet of 19 new vehicles, which offer leather seats, free WiFi, tables and USB charging points for mobile phones.

And the service now offers four different routes, A,B,C and D, including faster, direct journeys between Lynn and Wisbech and from Swaffham to Norwich.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting, Miss Kemp praised the improvement to the Excel route, but said far more still needs to be done.

She said: “Every time the bus timetable changes in West Norfolk, buses are lost. The Government needs to reverse the cuts to tackle congestion, and improve connectivity in West Norfolk.

“Reliable, frequent buses are the way forward to cut congestion, air pollution and climate change.

“The borough has the biggest carbon footprint in Norfolk, and had the biggest increase in carbon emissions of any local authority area in the last Department for Business Report, so the government must take Climate Change into account and give West Norfolk funding for a Bus Superhighway now.

“We have a fast transit bus lane into Lynn and we need other bus-only lanes.”

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