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MPs make fresh demand for A47 investment as Norfolk County Council slams slow progress so far

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West Norfolk's MPs have thrown their weight behind a new call for investment in upgrading the A47.

Liz Truss and James Wild are among 11 MPs from across East Anglia to have signed a letter to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, demanding investment in three key stretches of the route.

The letter, which has been published tonight, follows stinging criticism earlier this week of the slow progress made by the body responsible for delivering improvements to the road.

MPs are increasing the pressure for investment in improving the A47.
MPs are increasing the pressure for investment in improving the A47.

It calls for dualling of three priority sections of the route – Tilney to East Winch, Walton Highway to the A16 junction near Peterborough and the Acle Straight to Yarmouth – in the period up to 2025, in line with the aims of the A47 Alliance campaign.

The letter argues that the upgrades would generate hundreds of millions of pounds in economic benefits and create up to 75,000 jobs.

It goes on: "We agree with the Prime Minister that this is the right moment for an infrastructure revolution in this country.

Pictured from left, Chloe Smith, Liz Truss, George Freeman, James Wild and Jerome Mayhew. (27179363)
Pictured from left, Chloe Smith, Liz Truss, George Freeman, James Wild and Jerome Mayhew. (27179363)

"It is vital that the A47 as an essential part of our national infrastructure is upgraded to promote and accelerate economic growth and prosperity across East Anglia."

During an election campaign visit to Lynn alongside Mr Wild in November, chancellor Sajid Javid pledged a "decade of renewal" when he was questioned about plans for the A47 and other major infrastructure issues.

Mr Wild said tonight: “Now is the right moment for an infrastructure revolution.

"We have come together as MPs representing constituencies that rely on the A47 to make the case for more investment that will boost jobs and growth.

"By backing these schemes we can make a real difference for businesses and people across the east of England and help spread prosperity.”

The letter comes after Norfolk County Council leaders slammed Highways England for what it says are "unacceptable" delays to previously pledged upgrades.

A £300 million package to improve several sections of the A47 was originally announced in 2014.

But, although Highways England, the body responsible for delivering the upgrades, says work is progressing, no construction has yet started, despite initial expectations they would be finished this year.

And Norfolk County Council leaders say regulators should be doing more to hold the organisation to account.

The call has been made in a draft response to a consultation from the Office for Rail and Road on how the performance of Highways England is assessed, which is due to be considered by a council committee next week.

Martin Wilby, the authority’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “Norfolk is missing out on economic growth, new homes and jobs because of this continued delay.

“It’s unacceptable and we want the regulator to intervene early in cases like this.”

A Highways England spokesman said the organisation was working to complete the currently funded schemes by 2025.

He said: “We share Norfolk County Council’s eagerness so see the upgrades delivered as soon as possible and value their support as we take each scheme through its development.”

But they also admit that construction work on Norfolk sections of the route which already have funding is not set to start until at least the spring of next year.

And the council says it is “extremely concerned” about the body’s ability to deliver.

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