The delivery of A14 repair works which started today has been heavily criticised with diversion routes slammed as 'nonsensical and astonishing'.

The A14 repair works are taking place between Haughley at junction 47a and Tothill at junction 49, with a diversion which adds around 40 minutes onto people's journeys.

The project is part of a National Highways scheme to remove, reconstruct and resurface the road and overnight closures will finish on March 28.

Land agent Simon Pott has lived in the Bury St Edmunds area for the past 40 years.

East Anglian Daily Times: Land agent Simon Pott has lived in the Bury St Edmunds area for the past 40 years.Land agent Simon Pott has lived in the Bury St Edmunds area for the past 40 years. (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown, Newsquest)

He labelled the diversion plans as "nonsensical and astonishing", saying: "They're putting lorries through inadequate roads which is just going to cause chaos."

Mr Pott added: "I imagine this type of diversion is created by someone who has never been to Suffolk and is oblivious to whatever disastrous consequences might be created."

Pointing to the diversion being almost double the length of the closed stretch of road, Mr Pott theorised that many large lorries would try to find a short cut, using small villages as "rural rat-runs".

One such place is nearby Elmswell, which chairman of Elmswell Parish Council Fred Pallett says will soon descend into "absolute chaos".

"It's totally frustrating," he said.

"We've desperately been trying to get National Highways to engage with us.

"People make decisions from their desks, but we just ask that they please engage with the parish council from the beginning."

Councillor Pallet added that this situation would only worsen with the added pressure of the closure of one of the main roads through Elmswell for the next 14 weeks.

Earlier this year, National Highways contacted Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill and the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to inform them on the repairs project.

However, both parties claim that National Highways has failed to keep them informed of the changing timescales and mitigation proposals.

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk Chamber of Commerce's head of public affairs, Paul Simon.Suffolk Chamber of Commerce's head of public affairs, Paul Simon. (Image: Suffolk Chamber of Commerce)

Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber's head of public affairs, said: "When we met with National Highways we asked to be kept proactively up-to-date with the programme. This has not happened.

"We were also promised information as to how the project's negative impact on businesses could be mitigated. Again, this has not happened.

He added: "With their poor communications and lack of planning, National Highways risk hurting the prospects and increasing the costs of local businesses.

"This is not good enough."

East Anglian Daily Times: Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill.Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill. (Image: Gregg Brown, Newsquest)

Ms Churchill echoed these concerns, saying National Highways "failed even to give the basic courtesy of responding to correspondence which outlined ideas put forward by constituents and my office."

The Bury St Edmunds MP said she asked the organisation to look at funding community speed-watch programmes within the diversion zone, but she was again ignored.

Ms Churchill added: "Whilst we all appreciate the works are needed, the methods of communication and planning are of concern and need to improve swiftly."

Ms Churchill and Suffolk Chamber are calling for an urgent meeting with senior National Highways executives to address their concerns.

A spokesman for National Highways said that they understood living near roadworks was "not easy" but, once installed, the contraflow system would allow them to keep the A14 open while they undertook the upgrade, minimising disruption for motorists.

They added: "We have carried out an intensive communication and engagement campaign to encourage drivers to stick to the approved diversion route, which has been chosen as it's best suited to handle the flows of traffic experienced on the A14.

"The diversion route has been agreed with the local authorities and emergency services, and is clearly signposted. 

"We have also raised awareness of the overnight closures via our website, the local media, resident letters and publication information events."