Sudbury: Councillors call for urgent action to tackle traffic congestion and pollution
08:00 12 April 2014
County highways chiefs have been criticised for dragging their feet over plans to solve Sudbury’s ongoing list of traffic problems.
Issues that have been on the town’s highways committee ‘matters pending’ list for more than two years, include congestion on the busy one-way system, pollution on narrow streets due to large numbers of HGVs and safety issues around town centre primary schools.
The lack of a decision on vital transport issues is also holding up plans for a major economy-boosting rejuvenation of the Belle Vue and Hamilton Road areas, including the bus station and a proposed cinema complex.
Sudbury has been identified in the county council’s 20-year local transport plan (LTP3) as one of 11 strategic towns earmarked for future significant growth.
As part of the plan, £450,000 has been allocated to spend on transport schemes to support that expansion, but the money must be spent by the end of the year.
The county held a consultation exercise at Sudbury Town Hall in February, to give interested parties a chance to have a say on how the money should be spent.
The findings, which will form part of long-term plan for the town, were due to be reported back to the Babergh-lead Sudbury Steering Group last month, but the county was not ready.
At a town council meeting this week, highways committee chairman Tony Platt said: “We have a huge number of transport issues in the town ranging from a push for 20pmh zones to the ongoing need for a bypass but we don’t seem to be making any progress at all. We’ve had consultations but we now need the highways department to come back to us with some action.”
County councillor Colin Spence added: “County officers are aware that there are lots of highways issues in Sudbury that need attention.
“We really need to get moving on this because there is only a short time before the deadline for the £450,000 funding runs out.”
But council member Nigel Bennett, who is also chairman of steering group, said it is the county council that is “dragging its feet”. He added: “We should have had the LPT3 on the agenda at last months meeting, but the county wasn’t ready to come back with the information on the work that was meant to be done.
“We can’t give an opinion on where we want the money spent until we have had that feedback, and that’s lead to a delay.”
The steering group needs to get firm plans in place for the road network before it can progress with any development. If some of the schemes discussed at the forum go ahead, there could be radical changes to the way traffic flows around Sudbury town centre.
Last night, a county council spokesman said progress of the (LTP3) scheme would be reported to the Sudbury steering group for discussion, possibly later this month.
He added: “The council’s area officer liaises with the town council on local highway issues and attends the committee meetings as required.
“It is anticipated that the remaining LTP3 budget for Sudbury will be utilised in the work associated with the Belle Vue roundabout area, but this work is ongoing and there is no identified scheme at this time.
“Future improvement schemes will be identified as part of the (Babergh) area action plan process and these will be considered for implementation once the plan has been completed.”