Guinness family backs A11 campaign

ONE of the country's wealthiest families have given their full support to a campaign calling on the government to accelerate the dualling of the A11.

ONE of the country's wealthiest families have given their full support to a campaign calling on the government to accelerate the dualling of the A11.

Lady Iveagh from the Elveden Estate signed a major petition on behalf of the Guinness family and said it was high time that the trunk road was upgraded.

The wife of the Earl of Iveagh said it did not matter if the estate's retail operation lost passing trade as a result of the bypass as long as the road between the Barton Mills Fiveways roundabout and Thetford was dualled as soon as possible.

Lord and Lady Iveagh, who are members of the £830m Guinness brewing dynasty, are set to lose 80 acres of their 23,000 acre estate when compulsory purchase orders are served and work on the long-waited nine mile stretch finally starts.

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The mother-of-two said the family had been waiting an “awful” long time for Elveden to be bypassed and were fully behind the A11 upgrade, despite potentially losing passing visitors to its restaurant, shop and retail enterprise.

“I suppose we are prepared to deal with it if it does take away trade, but if it makes it safer and more convenient to travel along the A11, then the pluses outweigh the negatives. It will certainly help the farming side of the estate because travelling from Mildenhall to Thetford with a tractor is a nightmare,” she said.

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Lady Iveagh joined a growing list of people who have added their names to the A11 petition following its launch by Norfolk County Council - backed by Suffolk County Council, MPs, local councils and businesses - on August 29.

More than 4,500 people had last night signed the online petition and another 2,600 have put pen to paper on hard copies at local libraries and public events. Another 2,350 people have also joined an A11 group on the social networking site Facebook.

Plans to dual the Thetford to Barton Mills stretch have been in the pipeline of 37 years. The £135m scheme, which will provide a £600m boost to the local economy, is currently scheduled for 2012/13, but could start at the end of 2010, if approved by transport minister Ruth Kelly.

Lady Iveagh added that it was “terrifying” trying to cross the busy trunk road and called on as many people as possible to sign the petition, which will also be hosted at the Elveden Estate shop.

“The more we shout, the better it is and it shows how important it is. Every village that has heavy traffic use seems to get bypassed apart from Elveden. Dualling will improve the quality of life in the village and for anyone travelling between Norwich and London,” she said.

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