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'Unaffordable and unjustifiable' - Labour group adds its voice to NDR western link opposition

PUBLISHED: 14:51 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:13 25 July 2019

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour Group at Norfolk County Council Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour Group at Norfolk County Council Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A new £153m road connecting the Northern Distributor Road to the A47 is "simply unaffordable and unjustifiable".

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for transport Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for transport Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

This is the view of the Labour group at County Hall, as it became the latest organisation to make its stance over the proposed western link known.

Leader Steve Morphew said that having considered various arguments the group will be campaigning against the link, which would see the £205m road joined up with the A47 at Wood Lane near Honingham.

Its opposition comes in the same month that Conservative-led Norfolk County Council's cabinet agreed its preferred route for the link road - and less than a week before council officers prepare to submit the first part of a business case for it.

Mr Morphew said he felt the western link scheme had been a rushed process and that more environmentally-friendly measures could be taken to address the issue of rat-running through villages west and north of Norwich.

Option C is the recommended preferred route for the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Option C is the recommended preferred route for the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

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He said: "We support solving the problem, but we're firmly on the side of finding a better way. There really is not enough evidence to justify spending £153m - or probably a lot more - on a road that will do considerable harm to the environment.

"This is an opportunity for Norfolk to lead, rather than default to old school narrow thinking and throw and expensive new road at the problem - we can do better.

"The case for the western link is described as compelling, but we just don't see that. The compelling case is to deal with the rat runs now and rethink how this type of problem is tackled."

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for transport, said he was surprised to learn of the Labour group's position on the road.

He said: "They are entitled to their opinion, but they have always been fully supportive in the past so I am surprised they have come to this judgment.

"We have had a cross party working group on the project from day one and that has included Labour councillors and the Norwich Western Link was agreed previously by full council, including the Labour group."

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