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Campaign to fully dual the A47 to be taken to Westminster

13 May 2019

People from across the region will unite in Westminster next month with the shared aim of compelling Government Ministers to commit funding towards fully dualling the A47.

Business leaders and politicians from Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk will attend a parliamentary reception on Tuesday 25 June* to make the case for investment in the A47 trunk road, which runs from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth on the east coast and connects to the A1 at Peterborough.

The Department for Transport is expected to announce this autumn which trunk roads will receive money from its Road Investment Strategy 2 funding pot, for improvements to be carried out between 2020 and 2025.  Ahead of this, the regional lobbying group the A47 Alliance has been gathering evidence to demonstrate the urgent need for upgrades to this major east-west route.

The A47 Alliance is calling on the Government to commit funding to fully dual the A47 by 2030 and specifically to prioritise upgrading the following sections from single to dual carriageway by 2025:

  • The Acle Straight in Norfolk
  • Tilney to East Winch (including Hardwick flyover) in Norfolk
  • Peterborough to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire

The A47 parliamentary reception at Westminster will be hosted by Brandon Lewis MP on behalf of the A47 Alliance, and the Secretary of State for Transport the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP and Minister of State for Transport Jesse Norman have been invited to hear the views, concerns and ambitions of business and political representatives from across the region.

Martin Wilby, Chairman of the A47 Alliance and Cabinet Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport at Norfolk County Council, said:  “The East of England is a vast region of the UK but we are under-served in terms of our transport links with the rest of the country.  It’s time for this to change.

“We want our businesses to thrive, grow and create more jobs.  We want visitors to be able to come to the region and spend money in our tourism and service industries while they’re here.  And we want people who live and work here to feel able to get around safely and have a better quality of life, not spend hours every week in slow-moving traffic or at a standstill.

“A fully dualled A47 is vital to achieving this.  We’ll be leaving Ministers is no doubt of how serious the region is about this when we see them in June.”

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, said:  “As both a backbench MP and a Government Minister, I have been stating the need for the dualling of the A47.  Not only will this hugely benefit my own constituency of Great Yarmouth, and in particular the growth of the energy industry and Outer Harbour, but the dualling of the A47 will also improve regional infrastructure across Norfolk and the East of England.

“That’s why I am delighted to be hosting the A47 Alliance event in Parliament so we can best make the case to my Government colleagues at the Department for Transport for the upgrades the road so urgently needs."

James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said:  “Fully dualling the A47 in Cambridgeshire is a central infrastructure priority for the Combined Authority.  This road links East Anglia with the East Midlands, connects the key cities of Peterborough and Norwich, and is important for tourism, agriculture and the local economy generally.  People and businesses rightly can’t fathom why such a critical road is majority single carriageway.

“But we have been working hard to bring plans forward that would see the whole of the route dualled in Cambridgeshire in a single scheme and crucially our findings show a strong economic case. But we need Government support for this, and that’s why taking the message to Westminster directly is so important. It can’t be overstated just what a difference such campaigns can make, especially one such as this which has widespread backing from people, businesses and local representatives.”

Last year, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Daily Press launched the Just Dual It! campaign, which gathered more than 2,000 messages of support from residents, businesses and political figures for full dualling of the A47.  Reasons for wanting the route fully dualled range from road safety, shortening journey times and improving journey reliability and creating a better transport link from the East of England to the Midlands and beyond.

These messages, along with other evidence and data, will be taken to the parliamentary reception next month and handed over to the Department for Transport to help inform their decision-making on the next round of trunk road funding.

Some of the messages will also be shown on a screen during the event as part of a specially-made video.  People who would like to tell Government decisionmakers what difference a fully dualled A47 would make to them, their community and the region as a whole can do so by tweeting their message and using the #justdualit hashtag in their tweet.  Tweets will need to be posted by Friday 17 May to be considered for inclusion in the video.

The A47 trunk road is managed by Highways England on behalf of the Government. Currently just 47 per cent of this major route is dual carriageway and while the Department for Transport has committed to making £300m of improvements to the road, including dualling some stretches, this will still leave substantial sections of the A47 as single carriageway with no current plans to dual them.

A fully-dualled A47 would bring significant benefits to the counties and communities along its route.  Dual carriageway A roads generally have better safety records than their single carriageway equivalents, with fewer accidents due to drivers misjudging the speed of other vehicles, for example when pulling out of a junction.  Between 2011 and 2015 there were 180 fatal or serious accidents on the A47.

In addition, shorter and more reliable journey times along the road and onwards to the Midlands would not only improve quality of life for many residents but also provide a huge boost to the regional economy by attracting new businesses, supporting existing businesses to become more profitable.

£300m of improvements to the A47 were announced in 2014 through the Road Investment Strategy 1 funding pot.  These were:

  • Great Yarmouth junction improvements, Norfolk
  • Blofield to North Burlingham dualling, Norfolk
  • A47/A11 Thickthorn junction improvement, Norfolk
  • North Tuddenham to Easton dualling, Norfolk
  • Guyhirn junction improvement, Cambridgeshire
  • Wansford to Sutton dualling, Peterborough

Work on these improvements is due to start in the 2020/21 financial year.

*Please note the timing of the reception has been rescheduled from early to late June following the recent announcement of a parliamentary recess that coincided with the original date.

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