North Norfolk Tories to back Western Link plans

A plan showing the proposed route of the Western Link, and, inset Gerard Mancini-Boyle.

A plan showing the proposed route of the Western Link, and, inset Gerard Mancini-Boyle. - Credit: Archant / Supplied

North Norfolk's Tories have called on their district council to get behind plans for the Norwich Western Link, saying it will improve ambulance response times.

Gerard Mancini-Boyle, deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council's opposition Conservative group, has tabled a motion backing the county council's plans for the controversial £198 million road.

The road would provide a link between the NDR - Broadland Northway - and the A47 - but significant opposition has arisen due to its feared environmental impact and doubts over the feasibility of the project. 

Gerard Mancini-Boyle, Conservative candidate for Hoveton and Tunstead at the North Norfolk District

Gerard Mancini-Boyle, Conservative group deputy leader on North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: Supplied by Gerard Mancini-Boyle

Mr Mancini-Boyle's opposition business motion, to be put forward at NNDC's meeting on April 27, asks for the council to "pledge its full support for the construction of the Norwich Western Link dual carriageway".

He said the new road would reduce ambulance response times for the whole of north Norfolk as well as boosting the district's economy and business.

Mr Mancini-Boyle said the road would allow faster access from north Norfolk to the A11 by reducing through traffic around Norwich, lead to a reduction in greenhouse gasses including CO2 and improve road safety. 

Council leader Tim Adams said members of his Liberal Democrat group would not be directed which way to vote on the motion, but he would personally not support it. 

Western Link protest at County Hall.

A scene from a Western Link protest at County Hall in Norwich. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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Mr Adams said: "I would certainly wish to hear them out. I'm concerned about this being deliverable. The county council are in financial turmoil - they've maxed out the credit card, so to speak, and they can't borrow any more.

"And there's no certainty the county council would get the backing of Highways England. Then there's the environmental impact, I cannot support the destruction of habitats on this road."

The county council is having to make an alteration to the route of the 3.9 mile road, due to the presence of protected bats.

Tim Adams, one of the co-ordinators of Cromer Cares community group.

Tim Adams, one of the co-ordinators of Cromer Cares community group. - Credit: Tim Adams

Officers said they would not have a figure for any cost changes due to the route shift until June, after design work is completed.

They were similarly cautious about how much inflation and construction costs could add, but said they had factored in a £40m risk reserve.

County Hall is also waiting to find out if the Department for Transport (DfT) will approve its outline business case and commit £168m towards it, with the council providing the rest.

An indication of how the route of the Norwich Western Link will need to change to avoid roosting mat

An indication of how the route of the Norwich Western Link could look. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The motion will be put to the district council at a meeting on April 27.