A traffic order that reduced the volume of lorries passing through a north Suffolk town has been lifted following negative feedback from surrounding areas. 

Since May last year, access to Eye town centre has been limited to HGVs servicing shops and businesses only to reduce the volume of traffic.

This was enforced through an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

But public consultation and analysis carried out by Suffolk County Council showed the scheme had a detrimental impact in surrounding villages, including Debenham, Hoxne and Stradbroke, where HGV traffic increased. 

Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for economic development, skills, transport strategy and waste, said: "Unfortunately, restricting HGV access in Eye has only moved the problem to other communities, which is not acceptable.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr Richard Smith MVOCllr Richard Smith MVO (Image: SCC)

“I understand that this is an important and upsetting issue for many people in Eye, but solving this type of problem in a rural county with few good quality routes is far from easy.

"We will continue to look at ways to mitigate the heavy traffic in Eye, including engineering measures and potentially different types of traffic restrictions.

“However, an overwhelming number of people were opposed to this restriction, and it is only right that we take their views into account and bring the experiment to an end.”

In November, Debenham parish councillor Steven Phipps said the village had become a “lorry fest” as freight that used to go through Eye was diverted and drivers found alternative routes.

Earlier that month a lorry blocked the B1077 Aspall Road in Debenham for eight hours after it became stuck in a driveway. 

East Anglian Daily Times:  A lorry blocked the B1077 Aspall Road in Debenham for eight hours  A lorry blocked the B1077 Aspall Road in Debenham for eight hours  (Image: Jeremy and Rebecca Stone)

Mr Phipps welcomed the lifting of the ETRO and said: "It has got to be positive, hasn't it? We've all talked about the bottlenecks, not just for Debenham but almost every country lane beyond Eye.

"To me, the answer isn't to stop them driving through this village or that village. The answer is put transport hubs on the main roads, like the A140. 

"You can't blame the hauliers for trying and dodging up a narrow lane to shave 10 minutes off the time - it is an infrastructure issue. 

"These villages are hundreds and hundreds of years old, they are not built to sustain enormous transport vehicles."

The county council said support for the restrictions in Eye was not universal, with 39% of respondents saying it had been positive and 18% saying it had been negative.

Others were unsure or didn’t provide a comment in the consultation.

Outside of the restricted area the feedback was described as overwhelmingly negative, with 73% saying it had made the situation in their community worse.

The main areas of concern raised were road safety, the impact on pedestrians and the narrowness of the alternative routes taken by the displaced HGVs.

Traffic surveys backed up the consultation findings, with 11 out of 15 surveyed areas showing an increase in HGV traffic. 

Suffolk County Council has made the decision to lift the ETRO over the next few weeks and revert HGV routing in Eye to the previous restriction, which covers the north of the town only.

The county council said it will continue to work with Eye Town Council to look at other ways to address the issue of heavy traffic.