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South Norfolk
  MP meets Roads Minister on Long Stratton bypass  

Traffic jams in Long Stratton are a regular occurence
Richard led a delegation to see
Roads Minister Karen Buck concerning
the Long Stratton bypass

SOUTH NORFOLK MP Richard Bacon has led a delegation to meet roads minister Karen Buck to press the case for the A140 bypass for Long Stratton, amid growing concerns about future funding for the project.

The Long Stratton bypass was the only formal major scheme bid in the county council's provisional second local transport plan and is one of the highest priorities for Norfolk.

The delegation was: Mr Andrew Lansdell, chairman of the Long Stratton parish council; Mrs Evelyn Riches, parish clerk; district councillor Peter Smith; and Long Stratton county councillor Stella Rice; together with Norfolk County Council's director of planning and transportation, Mike Jackson.

Mr Bacon said:

“Long Stratton is an appalling bottleneck and there is widespread agreement that a bypass would bring major benefits to the local community.  It would eliminate the dreadful tail backs, which can be up to three miles long, and ease congestion on a key strategic route into Norwich. There would also be benefits for safety and air quality”.

However, the government has introduced a new approach to funding under which regional assemblies are asked to rank road schemes on the basis of their 'regional significance'. 

Mr Bacon said: “We know that the bypass is unlikely to meet the new test of being 'regionally significant'. The bypass is locally significant, very good value for money with huge benefits, and is a top priority for Norfolk. We explained to the minister our concerns that the new approach to funding could mean Norfolk's priorities are overridden”

“It is possible there is now a structural problem with the government's approach to funding local authority major road schemes. Yet Norfolk has a good reputation for scheme delivery and an enormous amount of effort and expenditure has already gone into preparing this bid”.

“The Long Stratton bypass is now 'oven-ready' and could be delivered very quickly with low risk. We pointed out to the minister that this is potentially a very quick win for the government in terms of producing results that people can see”.

“The minister was unable to comment in detail, which in advance of a decision is fair enough. However, she did say that if clear evidence of a systemic funding bias against local schemes were to emerge then this would be a cause for concern and that the Department for Transport would want to examine the position very carefully.  It was a useful meeting and Long Stratton is now certainly on the minister's radar”.

25 January 2006

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