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Concerns raised over "agonisingly slow" A47 project

21 January 2020

Highways England should be held to account for the “agonisingly slow” progress on its A47 improvements in Norfolk, the County Council says.

A report by Norfolk County Council has told a national regulator of its “major concern” that work promised in 2014 and due for completion this year has not even started.

Councillor Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “The Government approved the funding in 2014 and Highways England should be completing improvements to the A47 this year – but it has not even started work.

“Norfolk is missing out on economic growth, new homes and jobs because of this continued delay. It’s unacceptable and we want the regulator to intervene early in cases like this.”

Transport regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is consulting public bodies on how it holds Highways England to account.

Norfolk County Council’s proposed response says that, in 2014, the Government committed £300m to improve parts of the A47 between Great Yarmouth and Tuddenham, with work due to take place from 2015-20. Work has not started and the council is concerned that the revised start dates of 2021/22 won’t be met.

The report says: “This is a major area of concern for the County Council. The expectation when the Government announced the inclusion of the A47 schemes within the programme for 2015-2020 was that they would be constructed within that period. We have, however, yet to see a start on any of the schemes.”

The report says the council has experienced “constant churn in representation from Highways England and their consultants, coupled with a lack of knowledge about the county due to the geographical remoteness of Highways England’s operations from Norfolk.

“Progress in development and delivery of the schemes has been agonisingly slow. Norfolk is extremely concerned about the ability of Highways England to deliver such projects.”

The council is encouraging the ORR to “meaningfully intervene” at an early stage, faced by issues like this and seek early resolution.

The report will be considered by the infrastructure and development select committee next week, before being considered by the cabinet on 3 February. Read a copy of the report.

Background

The £300m A47 improvements that were due to be completed between 2015 and 2020 are:

  • The Great Yarmouth junctions
  • Blofield to Burlingham dualling
  • Thickthorn junction
  • Easton to Tuddenham dualling

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