County's bosses urge A11 dualling

THE campaign to fully dual the A11 received a fresh boost yesterday as the bosses of 100 of Norfolk's biggest businesses urged the government to unlock the county's economic potential.

THE campaign to fully dual the A11 received a fresh boost yesterday as the bosses of 100 of Norfolk's biggest businesses urged the government to unlock the county's economic potential.

A public petition calling on transport minister Ruth Kelly to give the go-ahead to the £135m scheme has already generated 10,000 signatures following its launch by Norfolk County Council last month.

But the company directors, chief executives and partners of 100 companies, which employ more than 30,000 people, lent their weight behind the campaign yesterday by sending a letter to Westminster calling on the secretary of state to upgrade the last single carriageway stretch of the A11 as soon as possible.

Senior figures from Norwich Union, Anglian Group, Bernard Matthews, Multiyork, Group Lotus, Office2Office and Bowes of Norfolk are among those to have put their names to the letter, which has been drafted by the lobbying body Shaping Norfolk's Future and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. One hundred members of the Federation of Small Businesses, the CBI and the Institute of Directors have also signalled their support.


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They all call on Ms Kelly to commit to dual the nine-mile stretch between the Fiveways roundabout and Thetford and send in the workmen by 2010, before the next general election.

John Fry, chairman of Shaping Norfolk's Future, said the dualling of the A11 was the top priority for Norfolk's business community.

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“Dualling of the road is the number one priority to boost competitiveness and improve the perception of Norfolk as a great place in which to do business. The economic case for improving this stretch of road, estimated over time to be more than £600m, far outweighs the cost of building it,” he said.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, added: “The Norfolk business community is united in its desire to see the A11 finally dualled as quickly as is physically possible. The companies whose signatures we have received are representative of Norfolk employers and staff alike who suffer from delays currently caused by this single carriageway.”

A study by the consultants Atkins, commissioned by the East of England Development Agency and published earlier this year, concluded that dualling the stretch would generate a £557.5m benefit to the Norfolk economy in time spent working rather than sitting in traffic congestion.

It also concluded that there would be a £136m benefit to the wider Norfolk economy from dualling the road, such as improvements in productivity, improvements to businesses' supply chains and improvements to the labour market. The report adds that Thetford's future growth aspirations could be jeopardised by the failure to improve the trunk road.

Igal Mayer, chief executive of Norwich Union Insurance, said: “Norwich Union is 100pc behind this campaign to dual the A11. Norwich is the UK base of our general insurance and RAC business and the wholly inadequate transport links - both road and rail - between the city and the rest of the country, especially London, are unacceptable.

“Dualling the A11 between Barton Mills and Thetford would make Norwich a more sustainable place to work and live for our staff, improving conditions for us and other businesses in this region.”

The public petition is open until October 8 and can be signed at the Thetford and Brandon Times office or online at www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/dual-the-a11.

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