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Anger over plan to ban right turns off major Norwich road

Campaigners against the proposed plan to stop traffic turning right from Newmarket Road into Leopold Road, city councillor Judith Lubbock, front, and from left, resident Gordon Poole, resident Peter Warren, county councillor Mervyn Scutter, and resident David Uden.; Picture: Denise Bradley

Campaigners against the proposed plan to stop traffic turning right from Newmarket Road into Leopold Road, city councillor Judith Lubbock, front, and from left, resident Gordon Poole, resident Peter Warren, county councillor Mervyn Scutter, and resident David Uden.; Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant © 2011

Plans to spend almost half this year's budget for road improvements in Norwich on a single scheme are being opposed by campaigners.

Members of the Norwich Highways Agency committee will have to decide this week whether to agree a scheme which would ban right-hand turns from Newmarket Road into Leopold Road. The scheme would cost £170,000, of which £100,000 would be drawn from the £205,000 the city council has been allocated for improvement works in 2011/12 – just under half the budget.

The other £70,000, to pay for the cost of replacing the existing traffic signals, which have been in place since 1989, would come from Norfolk County Council.

Council officers hoped the changes to the junction, including creating two outbound traffic lanes between Daniels Road roundabout and the junction with Eaton Road, would combat congestion and give better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

But the scheme has proven controversial, with families living in and around Leopold Road not happy with the right turn ban which would have to be introduced to allow there to be two lanes of traffic heading out of Norwich.

The city council received 65 letters and emails. Although some were in favour of the change, 28 objected to the right turn ban, saying it would push traffic on to other narrow residential streets such as Melrose Road and Waldeck Road. The shortening of a bus lane leading into Norwich, so traffic could merge into one lane more easily, was raised as a concern by Green county councillor Richard Bearman, who feared it would make it more unsafe for cyclists.

And Liberal Democrat city and county councillors said the scheme was not good value and the money would be better spent on other schemes.

Rosalind Wright, Lib Dem city councillor for Eaton, said: “We are representing the views of many residents of the area who will be directly affected by the proposed ban. They do not want the right-hand turn ban as it will push more traffic onto other roads such as Melrose and Waldeck or even Upton Road causing more cars to stop in Newmarket Road, cause a backup and make a difficult right hand turn across two lanes of traffic. But more than anything it is just not value for money.”

And Lib Dem county councillor Mervyn Scutter for Eaton, who is a non-voting member of the Highways Agency committee, which is made up of city and county councillors, said: “It is the opinion of residents and councillors who oppose the loss of the right-hand turn that yellow hatching or keep clear boxes on the roundabout itself could be just as effective for a fraction of the price of £100,000.”

The Lib Dems are in favour of the upgrade to the traffic lights, which they say would improve safety for pupils at the CNS school in Eaton Road.

A decision will be made at the Norwich Highways Agency Committee meeting tomorrow.

Are you fighting controversial road proposals where you live? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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