July 28 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Suffolk’s highways chief has pledged to rethink criteria for 20mph speed zones after more than 100 people attended a meeting and pleaded with him to help solve Sudbury’s ongoing traffic woes.
The community meeting, at All Saints Church hall, was organised by residents of Cross Street, which has some of the highest pollution levels in the county.
But people from all over the town took the opportunity to air their concerns about Sudbury’s “antiquated” one way system – which is being used as a rat run by HGV drivers – safety issues associated with cycling and walking, and the apparent lack of a plan to solve the problems.
At the meeting, Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport, said that while a western bypass was the obvious long term solution, it would cost around £70million so efforts should be concentrated on what could be done in the short term.
This included turning Sudbury town centre into a 20mph zone to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and pushing to get the strategic lorry route changed to stop huge lorries thundering through the narrow historic streets.
Sudbury town council has been pushing for 20mph speed limits but had dropped the idea because new criteria recently introduced by the county council would make it impossible for most of the town’s roads to qualify.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, 20mph zones will not be considered on A and B class roads or those with existing average speeds above 30mph.
Tony Platt, the town council’s highways committee chairman, said: “We have been trying for some time to get 20mph zones but when we received the new guidelines, we found we couldn’t apply.”
But Mr Newman promised those who attended the meeting he would review Sudbury’s case and ask for a blanket 20mph limit across the town centre. He said: “We have all of theses suggestions on the table and it’s a now a question of funding and what we can deliver. The call for 20mph seems to be a clear message coming out from this (meeting) and that’s something I will definitely take away and investigate.”
Town and district councillor Nigel Bennett said: “If the county is prepared to look at 20mph again and view Sudbury as an exception, then that would be fantastic.”
One of the main problems facing Sudbury and Cross Street in particular is that the A131 is the main route from Essex to Bury St Edmunds. Mr Newman also pledged to work with Essex County Council to get the strategic lorry route changed. He added: “We should encourage vehicles coming from Braintree to continue on to Colchester and up the A134 but it’s a 50% greater distance to go via Colchester to Bury rather than to go direct. And if you go up the A12 via Copdock then it doubles the distance.
“We have to convince hauliers to take these alternative routes because there is nothing in the regulatory system to stop them coming through Sudbury.”