December has proved to be a very positive month for Norfolk. We now have the A11 fully opened and the transformation of driving from Barton Mills to Thetford on a fully dualled road without stop,start traffic is fantastic. This is going to make a huge difference to South West Norfolk, as well as the rest of the county. Just before the opening ceremony I attended a business breakfast with around 60 companies from the area. The local business forums have been instrumental in driving this scheme forward and MPs and councillors from both Norfolk and Suffolk mobilised behind the campaign. Combined with the significant tourism promotion that will be launched in early 2015 to raise the profile of Norfolk across the UK, the news is very positive for jobs and opportunities here.
Another piece of positive news was the announcement by the Chancellor in the Autumn statement that £300 million will be invested in the A47. However there is still more to be done; I want the whole of the road upgraded and will be pressing the government to make this a priority. I am delighted that fuel duty is frozen again and that business rate relief will continue. This is great news for all the fantastic local businesses in the area.
I was delighted to take part in Small Business Saturday – with local councillors I visited a number of shops in Swaffham and chatted to market stall holders. I picked up some Norfolk walnuts as well as local celery. This event is an excellent way to showcase all the amazing and diverse shops we have in South West Norfolk. Their contribution to the local community must not be underestimated, providing jobs, sourcing locally as well as offering a special consumer service – and during the seasonal festivities, it's always a hit when a spot of mulled wine or mince pie is thrown in for good measure!