9 February 2013

Thinking Paper #221: Will upgrading the A47 trunk road help Great Britain win the "global race"?

By R. Ford Golightly

On Thursday 7 February (probably around the time you were tucking into your Findus microwaveable Lasagne for one in front of the HD stupid box) "Norfolk's leading parliamentarian", George Freeman (Mid Norfolk - Conservative), was leading a debate in the House of Commons on the proposed upgrade and dualling of the A47 trunk road. History was being made Great people of Britain.*

"The A47 is a strategic route of national and regional importance to the East Anglian and Norfolk economies", Mr Freeman began. Hear-hear. In no particular order, the praise spurted forth in a tsunami of transport related terminology: former Foreign Office man in Africa, Henry Bellingham, led the congratulations, reserving specific praise for the progress made on the "middleton crossing" ; Chloe "The Iron Lady" Smith took time out from doing the jobs that Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude don't want to do in the Cabinet Office to stress the importance of the debate via a post it note passed down the line to Mr Freeman; and Richard Bacon (no not that one) emphasised the importance of dualling not just the "section of the A47 that is immediately to the north of my constituents, in both the east and the west" but the whole 105 miles of the bloody road! Ba-con, Ba-con, Ba-con.

As if the baying mob of Norfolk based MPs needed any more encouragement, Freeman then threw in a handful of Gordon Brown-esque numbers for good measure. The investment, we were assured, could create £800 million pounds worth of new jobs for local people with Latvian accents; 75 percentage points of regional economic growth in this spending review period alone; and a 30 minute cut to each car journey time resulting in "thousands of saved hours" per person per annum. To do what I hear you ask? To get home from work a little bit earlier you impetuous little rabbit. And if that wasn't enough, in his concluding comments, Freeman opted for a bit of heart inspired metaphoring - investment would "unclogg the artery of Norfolk" he chimed to appreciative roars from the Public Gallery. Positively Churchillian.

In his underwhelming response, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond) reassured us that "the paucity of people in the Public Gallery had nothing to do with the power of his case" (it was actually quite full Steve) before going on to use approximately 1,386 words to bash the opposition (who weren't actually at the debate), list largely irrelevant numbers unrelated to the issue and do everything to try and kick the A47 trunk road into the long grass / kick the can down the road, whichever you prefer. Probably pending a review, something like that.

Editors note: We're never going to win the global race with long eared, short tailed little Rabbits like Hammond at the steering wheel.

Concluding comments

As Michael Gove stole the headlines with his stupid face, true changes were afoot in the House of Commons under the watchful guise of a rather heaving public gallery.

The BRIC nations may not have heard of the A47 trunk road, but boy will they wish they had once this Government makes the decision to "unclog the artery" of change in Nelson's Land of Stars.

* I must declare an interest. The Golightly family are inextricably linked to the county of Norfolk through family breeding and heritage. I therefore come to the debate with a strong bias for investment in this most valuable trunk road that has served the Golightly dynasty so well.

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