East of England joins forces in Westminster to press Government on A47 dualling
West Norfolk and the need for major road improvements in the area were prominent in the demands of those who travelled to Westminster today to demand dualling of the A47.
Representatives from across the East of England came together to make it a priority.
Emma Stallion, from Bespak in Lynn and Peter Brown from Fakenham hauliers Jack Richards & Son, were among those attending and spoke of how an improved A47 would allow them to invest with confidence, grow their customer bases and retain skilled workers..
More than 60 people, including North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, gathered at the A47 parliamentary reception which was hosted by Brandon Lewis MP on behalf of the A47 Alliance.
Michael Ellis MP, minister of state for transport, also attended and heard speeches from regional businesspeople on how the A47 is limiting their success and growth.
Concerns over the decline of Norfolk’s manufacturing base were also raised, while Patrick Peal, chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, spoke of how often their crews attended traffic accidents on the road and urged the Government to investing in dualling further stretches of the A47 to increase road safety.
In response, Mr Ellis said: “I get it. I get the importance of the A47 in terms of east-west movement and the economic value. I really appreciate you all coming together for this project, it does send a powerful and effective message. I look forward to receiving new information from the A47 Alliance, we’ll be looking very closely at it.”
He was then presented with a crate of evidence gathered by the A47 Alliance to demonstrate the urgent need for upgrades to this major east-west route.
The Department for Transport is expected to announce this autumn which trunk roads will receive money from its Road Investment Strategy 2 funding pot, for improvements to be carried out between 2020 and 2025. The A47 Alliance is calling on the Government to commit funding to fully dual the A47 by 2030 and specifically to prioritise upgrading the following sections from single to dual carriageway by 2025:
• The Acle Straight in Norfolk
• Tilney to East Winch (including Hardwick flyover) in Norfolk
• Peterborough to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire
Martin Wilby, chairman of the A47 Alliance and cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council, said: “I think we can be really encouraged by today. We have an excellent evidence-based case for the great need for these improvements and we’ve demonstrated that the whole region is speaking with one voice by backing the A47 Alliance’s dualling priorities. We’ve done our best. And hopefully, in the autumn, we’ll get the good news we need.
“But our work won’t be done then. Beyond this autumn’s funding announcement, our ultimate aim is the full dualling of the A47. So we will continue to push the Government to commit to dual the road from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft on the east coast all the way through to Peterborough.”
The A47 trunk road, which runs from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth on the east coast and connects to the A1 at Peterborough, is managed by Highways England on behalf of the Government. Currently just 47 per cent of this major route is dual carriageway and while the Department for Transport has committed to making £300m of improvements to the road, including dualling some stretches, this will still leave substantial sections of the A47 as single carriageway with no current plans to dual them.
A fully-dualled A47 would bring significant benefits to the counties and communities along its route. Dual carriageway A roads generally have better safety records than their single carriageway equivalents, with fewer accidents due to drivers misjudging the speed of other vehicles, for example when pulling out of a junction. Between 2011 and 2015 there were 180 fatal or serious accidents on the A47.
In addition, shorter and more reliable journey times along the road and onwards to the Midlands would not only improve quality of life for many residents but also provide a huge boost to the regional economy by attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses to become more profitable.
More by this authorMark Leslie