A Wet Dock Crossing could be good – whoever’s in power

A crossing over the Wet Dock lock gates could ease congestion.

A crossing over the Wet Dock lock gates could ease congestion. - Credit: Archant

I learned many years ago not to take any budget at face value while it is being delivered by whoever is the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day.

Whoever is standing up at the despatch box seems to be able to put the best possible gloss on the news – and it is only a few hours (or days) later that the full impact becomes clear.

That seems true again this time around – it’s pretty clear to most people who aren’t sitting on the government benches in the House of Commons that we’re not all living in the Land of Milk and Honey that Mr Osborne seems to think we’re in.

But neither are things quite as terrible for most people as Labour would have us think. The truth is in the middle – and I suspect most voters recognise that and will effectively discount the budget speech when they come to cast their vote.

What was interesting for those of us in Suffolk was the Chancellor’s pledge that a new Conservative government would make £2 million available to draw up plans for a new Wet Dock crossing in Ipswich.

That struck me as a good offer – and one that could really make a major difference to town centre traffic.

Having said that, I understand where Labour’s David Ellesmere is coming from when he says he’d like to see £2 million spent looking at all the options for town centre traffic.

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I just think that on this occasion a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – and spending £2 million on a town-wide study is effectively kicking any solution to traffic problems into the long grass.

Let’s be honest, a Wet Dock Crossing isn’t going to be a major safety valve when the Orwell Bridge is shut. It isn’t an alternative to a northern by-pass.

What it does is ease the traffic pressure on the roads around the Waterfront, the most historic part of the town, and frees up land on the Island Site for redevelopment.

That is a huge plus for the town – and if the government is giving £2 million for the plans to be drawn up it is not unreasonable to expect it to fund the scheme in the future.

And I don’t think the construction of a Wet Dock Crossing would kill off hopes of a new road network to the north of the town – that has to be a prerequisite of any major Northern Fringe development.

I’d like to think that the £2 million to draw up plans for a new Wet Dock Crossing will survive whatever happens at the General Election.

I’d like to think that it won’t be seen as a “Tory proposal” and be instantly rejected by an incoming Labour government – or even diluted to include a look at all the other road proposals in Ipswich, or Suffolk, or the East of England.

Just once it would be good to see a bold scheme to improve the heart of our county town that all politicians could agree on!