July 23 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
People living on one of Suffolk’s most polluted streets, who have “lost confidence” in local authorities to solve the problem, are taking the matter into their own hands.
According to an air quality action plan produced by a senior environmental health officer more than two years ago, families in Sudbury’s Cross Street face pollution-related health issues that could be as serious as those associated with alcohol abuse.
But despite being raised as a priority in 2012, nothing has been done to alleviate the problem, according to frustrated residents.
Angered at the news that £127,000 of an allocated £450,000 for traffic measures in the town has already been spent with “no visible results”, they have organised an emergency community meeting to try to force some action.
Last night, a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said while not always “visible”, work is being done to improve the air quality situation on Cross Street, but he admitted there was more to do.
The street has high terraced buildings which create a ‘canyon’ effect, preventing polluted air from dispersing. It is a main entry point from Essex so is in constant use by articulated lorries. Annual and hourly targets set for safe levels of pollution are being exceeded on a regular basis.
Cross Street residents attended a meeting at Sudbury Town Council in February 2012 following the publication of an air quality report by Babergh officer James Buckingham.
Luke Cresswell, from Cross Street, said although all of the local authorities pledged to help solve the problem, nothing meaningful has happened since.
He said: “A lot of money is being spent but nothing is actually getting done, so we have totally lost faith and have no confidence in the local authorities to solve the problems.
“Pollution levels are way above the limit and we were told it is being ‘monitored’ – but without tangible results, that seems pointless.
“We have invited all of the relevant authorities to the community meeting and the idea is to let the community come up with ideas and put the officers on the spot.”
Suggestions to ease the misery in Cross Street have included banning HGVs from using the town as a through road and creating a one-way system on the road, which narrows to one lane in places.
The county council spokesman said: “Our highways team has been working with hauliers to discourage HGVs from coming through Cross Street, despite it being on a key lorry route.
“They’ve also been conducting traffic surveys to build up sufficient evidence to base future proposals and decisions on.
“I can reassure people that Suffolk County Council is committed to making improvements to Sudbury’s roads infrastructure and will continue to investigate options.”
Sudbury Steering Group is working with the county on a local transport plan. Its vice chairman Simon Barrett said: “It’s frustrating for local people but things have to be planned coherently and this takes time.”
The community meeting will take place on June 3 at All Saints Church centre in Church Street, starting at 7pm.