May 25 2013 Latest news:
By JOSEPH WATTS, Political editor
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Norfolk MPs will press ministers for cash to improve the A47 during a debate in the House of Commons today.
East Anglian political and business leaders recently launched the Gateway to Growth campaign to secure A47 upgrades which could generate nearly 10,000 jobs, add £390m to the region’s economy and attract £800m of private investment.
In a debate led by Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, MPs from around the country will push transport minister Stephen Hammond for a funding commitment.
Mr Freeman said before the debate: “Norwich is a large hub here in Norfolk, but it is not properly connected to the rural community and outside businesses.
“By improving the A47 we can change this.”
Gateway to Growth demands action on 14 projects at pinch-points and problematic junctions, including the Acle Straight, creating a third river crossing at Great Yarmouth, and building an East Winch/Middleton bypass in west Norfolk.
Originally it was thought these would be delivered over the next 20 years, but in December Mr Hammond indicated work might begin sooner than hoped.
He said the government may begin considering funding for the upgrades from this year as one of several “route-based strategies” – in which case money to pay for them could come through as early as 2015.
As well as creating a link between the Midlands and Europe, through Great Yarmouth, Mr Freeman will argue that an improved A47 would aid Norwich’s standing as a world- leading site for agricultural and plant science, making it the next “Silicon Valley”.
Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “[The A47] is a crucial artery for Norfolk and we know that improvements will boost the economy and help grow jobs in the region.”