Delight at 'overwhelming' A11 support

County council leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk spoke last night of their delight at an “overwhelming” response to a campaign to complete the dualling of the A11.

County council leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk spoke of their delight at an “overwhelming” response to a campaign to complete the dualling of the A11.

They hope people power will convince the government to start the vital upgrade between Thetford and Barton Mills as soon as possible after a petition gathered more than 14,200 signatures.

It will be delivered to the Department for Transport later this month, calling on the new transport minister Geoff Hoon to give the go-ahead to the £135m scheme which could see work starting in two years.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said the response to the A11 petition, which closed last week, showed the strength of feeling about the last single carriageway stretch of the trunk road.

He said: “The single carriageway stretch of the A11 perpetuates the myth that Norfolk is isolated.

“I am delighted thousands of people in Norfolk have spoken out so loud and clear. Politicians are united on a cross-party basis in this part of the world that the A11 dualling should be completed as an urgent matter of priority. The business community has also spoken out very loudly.”

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Mr Cox hopes to meet Mr Hoon in the near future after his predecessor, Ruth Kelly, appeared sympathetic to making a start in 2010.

The East of England Development Agency and Regional Assembly have prioritised the scheme which would be worth more than £600m to the local economy.

Thousands of businesspeople and residents in Norfolk and Suffolk signed the public petition as well as members of the online community from places such as Brazil, Australia, Belgium, Crete and the USA.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “The A11 is a lifeline to local businesses and local people and the government owes it to them to listen now and start the work as quickly as possible.

“The response has been an overwhelming 'yes' from across the eastern counties to freeing up this bottleneck and getting traffic flowing quickly and smoothly.”

East of England Liberal Democrats supported the campaign to dual the nine-mile stretch at their annual conference at the weekend.

Simon Wright, parliamentary spokesman for Norwich South, said he backed the A11 upgrade as long as mitigating environmental action was taken and a full impact assessment carried out on the effect on the Barton Mills Fiveways roundabout.

“This part of the A11 causes frustration to drivers and undermines the economic development of Norwich, Norfolk, and the wider region. And it's dangerous,” he said.