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‘Completely stupid’ - Great Yarmouth residents’ anger at ten-year delay to Acle Straight dualling

PUBLISHED: 17:32 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 22:00 16 September 2020

Danielle Haldron said she thought the Acle Straight needed to be dualled as a matter of safety. She lost a friend in a car accident on that road seven years ago, and in another crash, her friend was put into a coma. Photo: Sarah Burgess

Danielle Haldron said she thought the Acle Straight needed to be dualled as a matter of safety. She lost a friend in a car accident on that road seven years ago, and in another crash, her friend was put into a coma. Photo: Sarah Burgess

Archant

Residents and business owners in a Norfolk town have said they are angry and frustrated with the news the A47 Acle Straight will not be dualled for at least another decade.

People have been calling for the dualling of the A47 Acle Straight for years - but a recent announcement has pushed it back for at least another decade. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020People have been calling for the dualling of the A47 Acle Straight for years - but a recent announcement has pushed it back for at least another decade. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

The road between Acle and Great Yarmouth has not been included in the government’s road investment strategy for 2020-25 - with campaigners and councillors worried the next chance to push for the scheme will be 2030.

Tourism bosses have raised concerns over journey times for holidaymakers and day-trippers, but for those who live in Great Yarmouth the biggest problem is one of safety.

Danielle Haldron, 22, said the delay was “completely stupid”, knowing its dangers only too well.

“I lost one of my friends to that road seven years ago when she was just 15,” she said.

Michael Papa, who owns a seafront restaurant, said dualling the A47 from Acle would give the town a boost. He said: 'It's our kids who will suffer if it isn't done soon'. Photo: Sarah Burgess Michael Papa, who owns a seafront restaurant, said dualling the A47 from Acle would give the town a boost. He said: 'It's our kids who will suffer if it isn't done soon'. Photo: Sarah Burgess

“We were at Flegg High together, and someone trying to overtake crashed into the car she was in.

“The road is a death trap. Between 4-6pm every evening it’s bumper to bumper. On the one hand it’s annoying if you commute to Norwich for work, but on a more serious note it means emergency services struggle to get through at peak times.

“Because it’s so slow and monotonous it encourages dangerous driving when people see an opportunity to get ahead.

“There’s no depth perception on the road. You have to think twice as hard about driving as you would driving anywhere else. Especially with headlights coming at you, you just can’t tell how far away things are.”

Reg Harper said he's been coming to Yarmouth for years and used to have a chalet in Hemsby. He said he didn't know 'exactly how the Straight could be dualled' due to the marsh land on either side, but that the road in its current state was a death trap. Photo: Sarah BurgessReg Harper said he's been coming to Yarmouth for years and used to have a chalet in Hemsby. He said he didn't know 'exactly how the Straight could be dualled' due to the marsh land on either side, but that the road in its current state was a death trap. Photo: Sarah Burgess

MORE: Anger as A47 dualling ruled out for at least a decade

Reg Harper, who lives in Bedfordshire but visits Yarmouth regularly, agreed safety should be the government’s top priority.

So many people die on that road it’s ridiculous”, he said.

“Dualling it would help traffic flow better. If you go to Yarmouth on a Saturday at peak times, you could end up queuing from the Norwich roundabout. It’s an absolute nightmare and winds people up.

“I turn off at Caister at the Acle roundabout and come up into Yarmouth the long way purely to avoid that road.”

Aaron Jones (right) said the decision could set back tourism in the borough. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAaron Jones (right) said the decision could set back tourism in the borough. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Michael Papa, who runs a restaurant on Yarmouth seafront, said his generation was “used to the constant dithering” every time someone suggests dualling.

“They’ve been talking about it since I was small”, he said.

“If they don’t do it soon it’s our kids who will suffer. I live and work in Great Yarmouth - so it doesn’t impact me hugely. But I know it does with the younger generation who commute.

“Besides, the town is dying off. Everything is closing and there’s increasingly less reason for people to visit. If they could at least get to Yarmouth in decent time that would help give it a boost.”

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Ella WilkinsonCouncillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Aaron Jones, marketing director at the Pleasure Beach, echoed the fact that the road was “letting the town down”.

He said: “It’s the little things that put people off coming here. We get people from Essex, Colchester, Ipswich with constant complaints, they say it’s fine up until the Thickthorn area, and from there it seems like it takes forever.”

Trevor Wainwright, Labour leader at the borough council, said it was unfair to “raise people’s expectations” and then “let them down again”.

He said: “It’s very disappointing. With the third river crossing coming in 2021/22 it would have been beneficial. Anything we can do to improve accessibility to the borough is valued.

“But the plans go in and then they’re taken out again. Who knows where we’ll be in 2030 or 40?”

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth. Photo: Bill SmithBrandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth. Photo: Bill Smith

Kevin Huggins, chairman of Gorleston Traders’ Association, said he wasn’t surprised, but added that it “wasn’t worth dualling” until authorities sorted out traffic backlog at Vauxhall roundabout by adding an extra lane over Breydon bridge.

He said: “People coming down the Acle Straight come to south of Yarmouth going to Gorleston or Bradwell. But turning right at the Vauxhall roundabout leads to a queue. Dualling would be an awful waste of money until they do something about that.”

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Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he would be contacting the Department for Transport and Highways England to ask them to review their decision.

The Acle Straight has been a hotspot for tragedies for years.  It was termed an 'accident blackspot' in this Archant newspaper article from 1997. Picture: Archant LibraryThe Acle Straight has been a hotspot for tragedies for years. It was termed an 'accident blackspot' in this Archant newspaper article from 1997. Picture: Archant Library

He said: “Great Yarmouth has seen huge capital investments over recent years and the combination of these measures will make the business case for the Acle Straight even stronger.”

Lorry overturned on the Acle Straight during the hurricane in 1987. Picture: Archant LibraryLorry overturned on the Acle Straight during the hurricane in 1987. Picture: Archant Library

Lorry blown over on the Acle straight in 1990. Picture: Archant LibraryLorry blown over on the Acle straight in 1990. Picture: Archant Library


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