Business leaders push for A11 dualling

BUSINESS leaders across the region have joined local government chiefs in calling for dualling work on the A11 to get under way within two years.

Laurence Cawley

BUSINESS leaders across the region have joined local government chiefs in calling for dualling work on the A11 to get under way within two years.

Campaigners have been calling for the dualling of the A11 between Barton Mills and Thetford for more than 35 years. But as it currently stands, work is currently unlikely to begin before 2012-13 and funds to pay for the scheme are yet to be found.

Last week, MPs, councillors and other organisations joined forces calling on Transport secretary Ruth Kelly to get the £135million works underway in 2010.

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Amongst the business leaders who have signed up to the petition are John Fry, chief executive of Archant, which publishes the EADT, Clarke Willis, chief executive of Anglian Farmers, and Richard Tunnicliffe, regional director of the CBI.

Mr Tunnnicliffe said: “The last CBI estimate put the cost of congestion on UK roads at about £20billion a year in wasted resources and lost time.

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“Relatively simple schemes such as dualling the remaining stretch of the A11 should be seen as a low hanging fruit to government as a way to reduce congestion.

“The A11 has been a long term priority for business who need the certainty of travel times that dualling this stretch would give.”

The region's business leaders have now signed a joint letter which they will be sending to Ms Kelly later this month.

Meanwhile Forest Heath District Council, which helped launched the petition last week at the Elveden Estate, has declared pressing for the dualling of the carriageway on its top priorities.

Council leader Geoffrey Jaggard said: “Lobbying the Government for the dualling of the A11 is one of Forest Heath District Council's corporate priorities.

“We have been involved in talks with Government ministers and other key agencies to promote the importance of dualling the A11. People can show their support for this work by signing our petition.”

Last week, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said: “We are grateful for the region's (East of England Development Agency) consideration of this scheme which confirms that this it a very high priority for the region and that they wish to see the scheme start as soon as possible.

“Subject to completion of statutory procedures, the scheme is currently programmed to start construction in 2012-13 but we are continuing, as before, to progress development work so that it will be possible to start construction in 2010-11 should funding become available.”

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