Bid to cut number of lorries on Norwich streets yet to take off

A bid to slash the number of lorries which jam up Norwich's streets by allowing them exclusive use of one of the main bus lanes leading into Norwich has yet to reap the hoped-for dividends, bosses have admitted.

The Freight Consolidation Scheme, now rebranded as PortalNorwich, was introduced in 2008 with the goal of taking 2,000 lorry journeys a year off Norwich's streets.

Initially a 12-month trial, the scheme's objective was for lorries to reload their deliveries into low-emission vehicles at Foulger Transport's Snetterton base.

Those lorries then head into Norwich, with permission to use the bus lane on Newmarket Road, which means they get to their destinations more quickly.

The 12-month experiment, which proved controversial because lorries were sharing the bus lane with cyclists, became permanent in 2009.

It had been hoped up to five journeys would be made each day, but the scheme has struggled to recruit customers, with only a handful of companies having signed up.

Simon Lee, group operations manager at Foulger Transport, said: 'We are still here and still delivering and obviously we'd like to see it increase.

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'But these are difficult trading times. Retail spending is down and, unfortunately, even though it is more environmentally friendly and will reduce traffic movements around Norwich, freight consolidation is not a high priority for companies at the moment.' He said the scheme had 'three or four' customers but that a major one was QD. He said: 'We are in and out of Norwich between eight and 10 times a week with that one, making deliveries to St Stephen's Street and over at Anglia Square.' He said proposed measures such as the pedestrianisation of Westlegate, and further restrictions on lorries, would make the scheme more attractive.