‘A necessity, not a want’ - Businesses back A47 dualling
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Norfolk businesses have welcomed a renewed push to dual the A47 - describing it as “a necessity, not a want”.
On Monday, Norfolk County Council's Conservative controlled cabinet agreed to reignite the campaign to get the road fully dualled, amid frustration at the slow pace of work in getting existing improvement schemes done - a call which has been welcomed by the county's businesses.
Andy Davidson, transport manager at Starlings Transport, which has sites in North Walsham and Great Yarmouth, said: “If you’re going south out of Norfolk, you’ve got the A11 - which is dualled - or you’ve got the A140, which is not so great.
“If you’re going west though [along the A47], it is a pain in the backside for trucks going in and out of Norfolk.”
Mr Davidson said that while a dualled A47 would “certainly make a massive improvement to journey times in and out” of the county, he warned over improvements only being made, for example, to the stretch of the highway contained within Norfolk’s borders.
“That could cause a bottleneck when you get to the area around Saddle Bow [near King’s Lynn]," he said.
“It needs to be something which is done not just through Norfolk, but right the way through.”
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Damon Harris, who runs Harris Hardware in Dereham, said he foresaw improved road access as a boon for his suppliers.
“We get deliveries in from all over - Birmingham and elsewhere,” he said.
“There’s a chance it might bring more people into the town too,” he added, saying that the shop already welcomes customers from as far away as King’s Lynn.
Richard Goffin, port director at the Peel Ports Great Yarmouth, said: “Investment in improved transport infrastructure is an essential step to unlocking Great Yarmouth’s true potential.
“The ability to attract opportunities will not only benefit existing businesses but also the communities we serve today and the future prosperity we can deliver tomorrow.”
John Adams, managing director at Jarrold, agreed and said: “Any improvements to the connectivity of our region, particularly east/west which are now lagging behind, must be a positive step."
For Nova Fairbank, chief operating officer for the Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, fully dualling the road is essential.
She said: "It is vital for our county’s economic growth that we clearly demonstrate that Norfolk is ‘open for business’.
"The full dualling of the A47 is a ‘must have’ for Norfolk Chambers and the wider business community in order to deliver greater economic growth and jobs in this region.
“All sectors across our region rely heavily on the A47, as our main artery east to west and onwards to the Midlands. Improvements to this route are vital to help us to remain accessible and competitive.
“The passion and commitment of our business community to achieving a fully dualled A47 is clear and the economic benefits are evident – a fully dualled A47 is a necessity, not a want.”
Timeline: The long road to dual the A47
Plans for Thickthorn junction, Blofield to North Burlingham and North Tuddenham to Easton are lodged with the planning inspectorate, ahead of government go-ahead decisions.
All eight Conservative MPs from Norfolk as well as several MPs from Suffolk and Cambridgeshire came together to call on the government to commit more money to improve the A47.
Following the general election, Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor sent a letter to re-elected prime minister Boris Johnson, briefing him on the A47.
Business bosses, council leaders, MPs and this newspaper, as part of the A47 Alliance, attended a meeting in London to send a message to the government about the need for further improvements.
The Eastern Daily Press launched its 'Just Dual It' campaign, giving its full backing to the dualling of the A47.
The A47 Alliance considers the first draft of a business case to dual the road.