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Budget fills a pothole

Deborah McGurran | 10:54 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

George Osborne and the Treasury  team on Budget day 2011

George Osborne and the Treasury team on Budget day

Good news for motorists, no not the fuel duty cut but the £100m pot to repair potholes.

We've all got our favourite one that we forget to swerve past and crunch into regularly. Most of our roads seem to resemble Swiss cheese after last winter.

The Local Government Association's Peter Box commented: "Councils filled in more than two million potholes last year and, following the coldest December on record, face a difficult task to keep roads in a safe condition this year."

Imagine that, two million potholes and not one of them on my road.

Of course the headline was the 1p cut in fuel duty and the cancelling of next month's 4p rise, although the 3p rise through the VAT increase stays... are you following all of this?

According to Labour that makes you 2p a litre worse off than you were at Christmas.

According to Matt Hancock, the Conservative MP for West Suffolk, you're 5p per litre better off than you would have been under Labour.

Petrol pump

Fuel - will motorists be better off?

"In the run up to the Budget, the overwhelming demand I heard across West Suffolk was for help for families and businesses with the cost of fuel. The Chancellor has delivered more than I could have hoped for," he said.

South Norfolk's Conservative MP, Richard Bacon, welcomed the £24m investment boost for Norwich Research Park.

He said: "I am delighted that the work of the scientists at the Norwich Research Park has been recognised by the Government. The Park includes the John Innes Centre, one of the world's leading centres of excellence in biological sciences which by itself contributes over £170m a year to the UK economy."

The lion's share of the funds, raised by the Government's bank levy, will go to the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, which will receive a cool £44m.

"This is a good budget for Cambridge," said the city's Lib Dem MP, Julian Huppert.

No news on Enterprise Zones for the East yet, most of that money looks like it's heading north so far but Norwich North MP, Chloe Smith (Con), is hopeful for a place in the 10 that have yet to be decided:

"I am pleased we got Norwich's name in the frame for an enterprise zone and now is the chance to work on the detail. I'm confident we can make a winning case."

But changes to planning might be the most profound for the East - the fastest growing region in the country. It will now be easier to convert commercial properties into homes and there's to be a presumption that the default answer for new developments will be a yes.

Norwich South MP, Lib Dem, Simon Wright, said the plans will give the construction industry a real boost:

"We've seen a real slump in first time house buyers in the last few years, and I'm pleased to see the Chancellor respond with hard proposals to address the struggle faced particularly by young people hoping to get on the housing ladder."

Residents will still need to have a say on plans that will change their towns and villages and councils will want to ensure there's a mixed economy of homes and offices. So we'll have to see how localism will play out under the new rules.

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