Don't expect fast solutions for new roads after survey
PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 July 2018
The results of our survey into what people thought of this part of the world that we published earlier this week were illuminating - but hardly a major surprise.
And what came across to me was that while there are some concerns, overall most people seem fairly content with their life in this part of the world (whether they are prepared to admit it or not!).
A few points did strike me. Despite recent concerns, most people had reasonably positive views of the NHS in Suffolk. That’s good news – and certainly something I’d agree with.
I wasn’t surprised, either, that most people feel fairly or very safe in Suffolk. I know there have been high-profile incidents over recent months, but compared with other parts of the country, Suffolk is a very safe place.
And most of the high-profile violence that has been reported has been specifically targeted. That doesn’t reduce its impact on victims or their families and friends. But it does mean that there is a very small chance of someone being the victim of a random act of violence.
I suspect many more people have felt themselves to be victims of low-level anti-social behaviour than actual violent crime.
The views about what make Suffolk such a good place to live were interesting – but I suspect that for many people, myself included, it is the whole package that the county offers rather than any one particular factor.
We live in Ipswich which really does give us the chance to take advantage of everything the county, and the wider area, has to offer.
I can be at Minsmere within an hour – or we can be in Norwich in 45 minutes on the train. We can also be in the heart of London in just under an hour. The only thing wrong with Suffolk is that its only steam railway is only a third of a mile long (but it will grow eventually).
The biggest bugbear for many people was the state of Suffolk’s roads and the road infrastructure generally. I hope the county council notes the concerns about potholes etc when it carries out the review of its highways maintenance.
I was also interested to see that the most important project for most people in the survey was an Ipswich Northern By-Pass.
There is a new Ipswich Northern Relief Road on the county council’s agenda – but it is many years away and dependent on the development of the Ipswich Garden Suburb in the northern fringe.
And I’m not sure that when the route is decided and details of the road are published that they will please all of those who say they want a “Northern By-Pass.”
I’ve pointed out many times before that the road being looked at by the county council is a distributor road, similar to the existing Ipswich northern route along Colchester and Valley Roads (albeit with some stretches of dual carriageway.
It’s not going to be a full dual carriageway like the A14. Highways England will have nothing to do with the road (except as a consultee when the roundabout under the A14 at Claydon is altered to create a junction for the new road) and it probably have a 40mph or 50mph speed limit.
And even in that form it has huge obstacles to overcome – of which securing the finance might be the simplest!
There will be massive environmental objections to any route for the road near the Fynn Valley – from some influential landowners. There were in the 1990s and I cannot see anything changing.
Local MP Dr Dan Poulter is totally unconvinced about the desirability of a northern route so there is likely to be a massive planning battle. I don’t expect to see any road built before 2030 at the very earliest.
And if you really want to hold out for a 70mph dual carriageway? Don’t expect to see that before 2100! And I’m not sure many of us will be around then!
For my money the most important new road for the county as a whole is the four villages by-pass to help open up north east Suffolk and the Energy Coast. But I also know there are those in other parts of the county who see other projects as more important.
I was also interested to see there is concern about the affordability of homes in the county – given that this remains a low wage area, it is clear that it will be an increasingly impossible dream for many people to own their own home. Maybe councils should aspire to build more affordable homes in Suffolk in future years if people are to have decent and secure places to live.