Business calls on Ruth Kelly to dual A11

Transport secretary Ruth Kelly was last night urged by dozens of East Anglia's most senior business figures to dual the A11 - and remove the barrier to bringing new jobs and prosperity to the region.

MORE pressure was put on transport secretary Ruth Kelly this week to dual the A11 and remove the barrier to bringing new jobs and prosperity to the region.

Twenty-two of East Anglia's most senior business figures have put their name to an open letter to Ms Kelly warning that the single-carriageway stretch between Thetford and the Fiveway roundabout “represents a barrier to improving Norfolk's economy and image”.

The letter warns that “traffic problems along this stretch of road result in Norfolk being perceived as remote and inaccessible, having a knock-on-effect on local businesses in terms of inward investment, competitiveness and recruitment”.

A study commissioned by the East of England Development Agency has concluded that dualling the road would be worth £557.5m to the economy in time-saved on sitting in traffic jams - and would bring £136m in wider benefits to the regional economy.

The call from business to dual the A11 also comes just days after the launch of a petition by the leaders of Norfolk and Suffolk county councils, MPs and John Fry, chairman of the economic development partnership, Shaping Norfolk's Future (SNF).

Chris Starkie, chief executive of SNF, said the letter would be sent to Whitehall later this month - and expected that 100 business leaders will have put their names and weight behind the campaign by the time the letter reaches Ms Kelly.

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"The business community regards dualling the A11 as the number one priority to boost competitiveness and improve the perception of Norfolk as a great place in which to do business,” Mr Starkie added.

"Unreliable journey times continue to damage Norfolk's image and its ability to develop its full potential as a vibrant business centre.

"In our letter we are calling on Ruth Kelly to act now. We have waited long enough for this scheme. Norfolk deserves and must demand better road links and the A11 is the county's number one priority."

Meanwhile leading business people have told the Times why they are backing the A11 campaign.

Noel Bartram, chief executive of Bernard Matthews, said: “We think a fully dualled A11 is essential for a thriving economy in Norfolk.

“For a farming business of our size and scale, with all of our production taking place within this region, a strong infrastructure is imperative.”

Richard Tunnicliffe, regional director of the CBI, said: “The last CBI estimate put the cost of congestion on UK roads at about £20bn a year in wasted resources and lost time.

“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 not only in Norfolk but for businesses around the UK who need the certainty of travel times that dualling this last stretch would give.”

Chris Maw, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Norwich, said: “The dualling of the A11 at Elveden would be welcomed by the business community of Norfolk.

“Not only would it be a vote of confidence in the local economy, it would also complete the all important road network to London and remove the

perception that Norfolk is somewhat remote from the rest of the UK.”

Jonathan Cage, managing director of TA Millard, said: “Dualling the A11 would put Norfolk in line with its neighbouring counties and allow us to work more closely with Suffolk and Cambridge. And at the moment, we're cut off from London and the south East -that's the perception as a result of a small stretch of road being a single carriageway.”

Businesses wishing to sign up to the letter can send an e-mail to