For many years, local councils and residents have campaigned to dual the A47 along the Acle Straight into Great Yarmouth. As the main road linking the town to the rest of the country, it is a vital transport lifeline. Despite its strategic importance the last Labour Government downgraded the road, preventing any access to outside funding for improvements. I have renewed my call on ministers to change the status of the A47 back to a strategic route.
Last year, I took the Roads Minister, Mike Penning MP, to see the Acle Straight for himself. It was an opportunity for the minister to see, at first hand, why it is a significant factor in the economic development of the Eastern Region. Labour changed the criteria to focus on existing usage rather than economic potential; this short-sighted move badly affected vital rural routes which if developed would help to kick start economic development.
Graham Plant, the county councillor responsible for Norfolk’s road, is supporting my campaign, “The A47 is a strategic link from the Midlands, past Kings Lynn to the town and port of Great Yarmouth. According to bureaucratic criteria, the road must have a certain amount of heavy goods vehicle traffic on it in order to qualify for a higher funding status. Due to Highways Authority restraints, it will never meet this ridiculous target, or attract funding.”
We must change the criteria, so that local economic benefit and growth become the priority criteria. Just as important is the safety element on the Acle Straight, we have seen too many accidents. An upgrade will improve safety as well as giving local business and residents a decent modern access road into Great Yarmouth.
It is deeply worrying that routes are currently assessed without proper consideration of their economic potential. A dualled A47 would benefit residents, businesses and visitors and it is vital that everyone comes together to lobby for this change. The Government is committed to Norfolk and the Eastern Region; the release of money for the A11 proves this, but we still need help. All we are asking is that the Government rights a mistake of the previous London-centric administration; it is a reasonable request.
25th January 2012