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Road minister hears the case for dualling the A47 at campaign launch

PUBLISHED: 14:30 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 19 March 2018

Transport minister, Jesse Norman, speaks at the A47 dualling campaign meeting at King's Lynn. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Transport minister, Jesse Norman, speaks at the A47 dualling campaign meeting at King's Lynn. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Roads minister Jesse Norman was today left in no doubt what Norfolk wants when it comes to its main artery: Just Dual It!

Transport minister, Jesse Norman, speaks at the A47 dualling campaign meeting at King's Lynn. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYTransport minister, Jesse Norman, speaks at the A47 dualling campaign meeting at King's Lynn. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In a meeting organised by the A47 Alliance at King’s Lynn Town Hall, councillors, business leaders and officials posed questions to Mr Norman and a panel of MPs.

The EDP-backed alliance is calling on the government to dual the entire 115-mile stretch from Peterborough to Lowestoft, to bring economic growth to the region as well as make our roads safer.

“I can only admire the steadfastness, the energy and perseverance of everyone working together to make a collective case of action,” Mr Norman said.

“I hope you all understand that this government is committed to better infrastructure for all the reasons you have highlighted.”

Graphic: Norfolk County Council.Graphic: Norfolk County Council.

He said improvements to parts of the route already in the pipeline showed “the tide is coming in your direction”.

Despite this, Mr Norman said he was not in a position to give any firm committments on the government’s behalf.

When asked by EDP editor David Powles what was the best way for the campaign to make itself heard, Mr Norman said: “Continue what you are doing, I think the level of local commitment that has been shown shows that being strong, collective and questioning is absolutely the right spirit.”

He said the government was already committed to spending £300m for improvements along the A47 in the coming years.

Supporters at King's Lynn for the A47 Dualling campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSupporters at King's Lynn for the A47 Dualling campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Norman heard about challenges including delayed journey times, limited business growth and the growing number of fatalities.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said dualling the A47 as soon as possible would save money in the long run. 
He said the Swaffham Bypass, a five-mile part dual carriageway which was costed at around £5.2m when it opened in 1981, would now cost around £60m.

“In 1988, the cost of dualling the entire A47 was £120m,” Mr Bellingham added. “The point to government is if you invest now you actually save money, you create wealth and create enterprise.”

George Freeman, Mid Norfolk MP, said it was a cross-party campaign which is being backed by all three counties and 15 MPs and will be led by the community.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council and chairman of the A47 Alliance, speaks at the meeting at King's Lynn for the A47 Dualling campaign, with, seated from left, MP George Freeman; transport minister, Jesse Norman; MP Henry Bellingham; MP Richard Bacon, and public affairs manager for the Chamber of Commerce, Nova Fairbank. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council and chairman of the A47 Alliance, speaks at the meeting at King's Lynn for the A47 Dualling campaign, with, seated from left, MP George Freeman; transport minister, Jesse Norman; MP Henry Bellingham; MP Richard Bacon, and public affairs manager for the Chamber of Commerce, Nova Fairbank. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We can all tell you the horrific stories, it is very dangerous and it runs through my constituency. Barely a month goes by without a fatality,” he added. 
“At times it’s carnage.”

Safety concerns were echoed by West Norfolk council leader Brian Long, who told the panel how he had knocked on a door whilst canvassing and met a father who was bringing up two young daughters on his own after his wife had been killed on the A47.

He asked Mr Norman: “When are our roads going to be made safe?”

Mr Norman responded that it would be bad policy to focus on individual cases, but added: “This government is taking road safety with extreme seriousness across all of our roads.”

Graphic: Norfolk County Council.Graphic: Norfolk County Council.

Questioning what would make this campaign different from previous attempts was Knights Hill Hotel general manager Bernard Ducker.

He told the panel: “We had a co-ordinated approach but we were told to behave ourselves, and in the 1990s nothing again happened.
“Sometimes we are too polite and not rude enough to get this across to people - this is not good enough.

“We have waited for this for too long.”

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon agreed, adding that campaigners must be very persistent.

Local MPs, Henry Bellingham, Richard Bacon, and George Freeman and supporters behind the A47 Dualling campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLocal MPs, Henry Bellingham, Richard Bacon, and George Freeman and supporters behind the A47 Dualling campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“When the government feels the risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting that is when things happen,” Mr Bacon added.

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce public affairs manager Nova Fairbank said: “If we work within the government frameworks, back that with the business community and residents all saying the same thing then it would be a strong message. It is down to us to build that.

“We need to keep going until we have all of the A47 dualled.”

How to get involved

Graphic: Norfolk County Council.Graphic: Norfolk County Council.

Buy a copy of the Eastern Daily Press on Friday. Inside will be a Just Dual It! Freepost postcard for you to send your own message to the government about why you think the A47 needs to be fully-dualled as soon as possible

Pick up a Just Dual It! postcard from Friday from: our offices in Rouen Road; County Hall in Martineau Lane; Norfolk Chamber of Commerce in Whiting Road, Norwich; Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Town Hall or West Norfolk Council’s offices in King’s Lynn. Those postcards would not be Freepost and would need a stamp.

Tweet your support for the campaign using the hashtag #justdualit. If you include your full name and location in the tweet, we will transfer your message onto a postcard for you.

Write, outlining your experiences of using the A47 to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPletters@archant.co.uk

Supporters at King's Lynn for the A47 Dualling campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSupporters at King's Lynn for the A47 Dualling campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Visit www.edp24.co.uk and www.norfolk.gov.uk/justdualit for the latest on the campaign.

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