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Should Norfolk business drivers be allowed to use bus lanes in rush hour?

PUBLISHED: 11:41 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:57 12 November 2018

Traffic using the Grapes Hill roundabout in Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Traffic using the Grapes Hill roundabout in Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

A Norfolk business has called for bus lanes in Norwich city centre to be open to business vehicles during rush hour.

Jamie Foreman, director of Wroxham-based Peril Solutions, believes traffic congestion in the city has got so bad it is causing damage to her business and its reputation.

She wants the city’s bus lanes to be opened to business traffic to allow drivers to get around the city faster and minimise the cost of disruption.

Ms Foreman has suggested that business vehicles travelling to jobs could have a device which would override the enforcement cameras, which are designed to catch drivers using the bus lane illegally at certain times of day.

She said: “I can be on my way to a job and spend half an hour crawling up Grapes Hill.

The FSB's round-table discussion with Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. Picture: ArchantThe FSB's round-table discussion with Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. Picture: Archant

“Never once have I seen a bus in the bus lane. I wonder whether we could look at giving business vehicles access to bus lanes to help distribute traffic?”

Ms Foreman was one of several business owners who met Norwich North MP Chloe Smith at an event organised by the Federation of Small Businesses, where traffic and congestion was high on the agenda.

Norwich City Council has nine bus-only lanes, such as St Stephens Street and Rampant Horse Street.

The council’s highways committee agreed earlier this year that traffic regulation orders be updated to enable all bus lanes to be enforced by camera.

The call for businesses to get preferential treatment was supported by James Neill of the Norwich Glass Company. He said: “We now start our first jobs at 9am instead of 8am, because otherwise we just lose an hour of the day sitting in traffic.”

Ms Foreman added: “You have to call the client and apologise for being late again and letting them down. We do fewer jobs in the day because we spend so much time in traffic.”

She added that the Norwich Northern Distributor Road had helped her to get around the county faster from her company’s Wroxham base.

However entrepreneur Alan Wright said: “I have no idea why they created those enormous roundabouts instead of slip roads onto the NDR.

“You’re trying to get to a meeting and there are massive tailbacks to the roundabout, and then the NDR itself is empty.”

Stuart Hallett of the FSB said: “Sometimes it works perfectly, and really cuts down on journey time, but the road was designed for much higher volumes of traffic for when residential areas are built on the northern side of the city in the future.

“Currently we don’t have lane discipline on those big roundabouts which is what causes the tailbacks. I think in the future businesses will find it works much better.”

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