Final push in dual A11 campaign

Residents, commuters, holidaymakers and businesspeople were urged to make their voice heard as a public A11 petition entered its final week.Thousands of people have so far put pens to paper or signed electronic forms urging the government to complete the 'missing link' between Thetford and Barton Mills as soon as possible.

Residents, commuters, holidaymakers and businesspeople were urged to make their voice heard as a public A11 petition entered its final week.

Thousands of people have so far put pens to paper or signed electronic forms urging the government to complete the 'missing link' between Thetford and Barton Mills as soon as possible.

Almost 11,000 people - including supporters from the USA, New Zealand, France, and Spain - have joined the petition since it was launched by Norfolk County Council at the end of August.

County council leader Daniel Cox said he was “delighted” with the scale of the response, which will be sent to the government's transport minister on Wednesday.


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The petition, which has the support of local MPs and some of Norfolk's biggest companies, aims to persuade the secretary of state to give the go-ahead to the £135m scheme, which could see work start at the end of 2010. The A11 upgrade is currently scheduled to begin in 2012/13.

Mr Cox said: “With a week to go, I urge anyone who hasn't already signed the petition to lend their voice to our united call to stop this single carriageway stretch of the A11 holding Norfolk back in both economic and time terms.”

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“The weight of this support can only add to the great deal of positive work that has already been done on the A11 behind the scenes at regional and national level, and hopefully convince Ruth Kelly to sign off accelerated dualling of this stretch before she leaves office.”

Regular A11 commuters, businesspeople hampered by the traffic congestion, and people who have lost friends and relatives following crashes on the nine mile stretch between Thetford and Barton Mills have signed an online petition, which now boasts more than 5,400 signatures.

Norfolk ex-pat Bob Dillow, who now lives in Bulls, New Zealand, said: “I have spent the last 15 years commuting out of Norfolk to earn a living in engineering which does nothing for the work-life balance or the environment when a third of my journey is spent sitting in traffic in Elveden or Brandon, hence I eventually had enough and moved to New Zealand.”

Jill Clarke, from Dereham, added: “After losing two relatives in a car accident at Elveden just over nine years ago, I feel strongly about this matter. It needs addressing now before other people have the heartache of losing relatives and friends on this stretch of the A11.”

Almost 6,000 people have so far signed petitions at Norfolk and Suffolk libraries, Norwich Bus Station, and returned paper forms to Norfolk County Council's planning and transportation department. More than 2,800 people have also joined a 'Dual the A11' group on the social networking website Facebook.

Norwich council leader Steve Morphew has accused the opposition Greens of extremism over A11 dualling and said the party's views risked frightening off potential investors to the city.

On Tuesday the city council backed a petition calling for dualling of the A11 after Labour, Lib Dems and Tories all voted in favour.

Tory leader Antony Little proposed the motion which will also see the authority write to outgoing Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly as well as local MPs in both Norfolk and Suffolk outlining its support.

But Green councillors voted against the plans arguing dualling would be bad for the environment and could leave the city at the mercy of outside influences such as big business.

Mr Morphew said the vote showed “clear green water” emerging between the Greens and the other parties.

“Now people can see them for what they really are,” he said. “Our worry is that this sort of extreme Green party position will scare off existing businesses and potential investment which in these difficult times the city needs.”

The motion made the city council's full meeting to support the petition was carried by 22 votes, with the 12 Green Party members voting against it.

But it was carried in an amended form put forward by Lib Dem councillor Rosalind Wright to ensure that assurances are sought from the secretary that a full environmental impact assessment is undertaken and that any impact is kept to a minimum.

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