Factfinding trip along A47 for MEP
Euro MP Robert Sturdy took a trip along the length of the A47 yesterday ahead of lobbying Brussels to reverse a decision to downgrade the route.Starting from Peterborough, the MEP headed to Yarmouth for talks with borough council officials about the need to dual the road.
Euro MP Robert Sturdy took a trip along the length of the A47 yesterday ahead of lobbying Brussels to reverse a decision to downgrade the route.
Starting from Peterborough, the MEP headed to Yarmouth for talks with borough council officials about the need to dual the road.
It follows news that the scheme had been dropped from the EU's transeuropean road network because there was little chance dualling would take place before 2020.
Mr Sturdy is meeting EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot in a bid to get the road reinstated as part of a drive to put pressure on the UK government to give a higher priority to the route.
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The 100-mile journey yesterday took the MEP more than three hours.
“The whole point is to get the full picture and to have the whole length of it dualled,” he said. “The next thing we have got to do is see how we can get government funding. It's about priorities, if we are going to develop the region, the government must consider it a priority.
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Critics believe dualling would create more greenhouse gas emissions and would devastate the eco-system along the Acle Straight.
But Barry Coleman, leader of Yarmouth Borough Council, said failing to dual the route could hamper job growth.
“The A47 is the main line of communication from Norfolk to the Midlands and the north of England,” he said. “Many millions of pounds have been invested in the borough, both locally and nationally and there is a real appetite by private companies to develop there businesses here. The failure of the government to take seriously the upgrading of the A47 is hampering the council's strategy for job creation.”
The meeting comes a day after it emerged that the firm operating train services from Norwich to Peterborough had downgraded the route after taking on the franchise in November - amid fears that East-West links are being increasingly ignored.
Meanwhile at the other end of the route North-East Cambridgeshire MP Malcolm Moss is to table a written question pressing for details of when the government first learned of the EU decision and how they responded.
“I want to see what involvement the government had in this decision,” he said. “I'm vitally concerned about it - it's vitally important. If we want to develop King's Lynn, Wisbech and March we need much better communications than we have got.”
Nick Daubney, leader of King's Lynn and West Norfolk borough council, said better transport links were vital if the town was to deliver on plans to build an extra 11,000 houses.
“We've got a good rail link to London,” he said. “Our ambition would be to have a station on the outskirts so that we had a town centre railway station and a more convenient one for people who live on the outskirts.
“Roads are a big issue,” he added. “We are looking to have 20,000 more people by 2021. We don't want to see all that development stifled by lack of infrastructure.
“We have already had some difficulty with the relocation of the college and the new housing on the South Lynn development site.
We need much better links - what we need is a fully dualled road right from Peterborough to Yarmouth.”