Mercury Column - July 2019

Transport issues are dominating my local agenda, and I recently highlighted these at the very heart of Westminster. With the Government set to decide its priorities for future roads investment, MPs are lobbying transport ministers to fund projects in Norfolk, and across East Anglia. Working with the A47 Alliance, I convened a meeting in the House of Commons to put the case for funding upgrades to our trunk road network. Leaders across East Anglia, from business, local government and public agencies, came together to put forward a compelling case.

The minister, Michael Ellis MP, listened to a variety of presentations demanding significant improvements to this vital road link. Those demands include dualling of the Acle Straight. Not only would this bring economic benefits to the whole region, but it would significantly improve road safety. The minister, while recognising the economic potential unlocked by dualling the route, focussed on the road safety aspects. He said, “safety is my top priority, and I look at that first and foremost.” With 180 deaths along the route in four years, and all experts saying that driver frustration is a contributory factor, I hope the minister seizes the opportunity to improve safety, so we don’t see shameful statistics like this in the future.

I’ve also launched a campaign demanding additional investment and changes to our rail service between the town and Norwich. Residents and businesses are dismayed at the unreliable service provided by Greater Anglia. For several years the heavily used line has been plagued by frequent cancellations and an unpredictable, often late, rail service upon which people can no longer rely. I know from first-hand experience how frustrating it is and that this derisory service is forcing more people on to our overstretched roads, including the A47 Acle Straight. It is not a new problem. I’ve highlighted how rail companies treat Great Yarmouth as the end of the line, not worthy of attention for over a decade now. Last year, I contacted Greater Anglia managers to demand answers as to why the train service to Great Yarmouth is so poor. I’ve repeated those calls. You can join the campaign and sign my petition at www.brandonlewis.co/campaigns