Counties disagree over A140 speed limits

A COUNTY split has emerged over proposed new speed limits on one of the region's most notorious roads.Norfolk's transport boss has hit out at plans for a blanket 50mph restriction on the A140 in Suffolk, claiming it will bring "the worst of both worlds" – more accidents and a slow road.

By Jonathan Barnes

A COUNTY split has emerged over proposed new speed limits on one of the region's most notorious roads.

Norfolk's transport boss has hit out at plans for a blanket 50mph restriction on the A140 in Suffolk, claiming it will bring "the worst of both worlds" - more accidents and a slow road.

The road is the main route for journeys between Ipswich and Norwich - but there has been no communication between the neighbouring councils about the new speed limits.


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They include lowering existing 40mph speed limits in the Stonhams and Brockford Street to 30mph and a new 40mph limit at Brome.

Suffolk councillors are expected to give the go-ahead to the new limits for an 18-month trial period.

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It is hoped the restrictions will ease the road's appalling safety record, which has seen more than 80 deaths in accidents in just over 20 years.

But Adrian Gunson, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for transport and planning, said he feared the move was a mistake.

"It could be the worst of both worlds with slower traffic and not making a big impact on the number of accidents," he said.

He warned the limits could even see a rise in small-scale accidents, such as shunts, because of the slow-moving traffic.

"In my view, it won't solve the problem. Many accidents are not caused by speed, but by the poor quality of the road and lack of facilities for both right-turning traffic and overtaking traffic.

"They might think speed limits are a good idea, but this is an important road - an A-road - and it provides the quickest journey between Ipswich and Norwich.

"It's a strategic road carrying a lot of traffic. Journey times are going to be longer."

Mr Gunson said Norfolk had made every effort not to impose restrictions on its stretch of the A140.

"We have introduced road schemes to avoid putting speed limits in. What is needed is more by-passes, like we have done at Scole and are doing at Long Stratton."

He added it would be "rather unfortunate" if the new speed limits caused motorists to avoid the A140 and increase congestion on other roads.

But Peter Monk, a member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee, said: "We know what the problems are with the road - and we are dealing with them.

"The speed limits should only add an extra few minutes to journey times and I would rather that if the road is safer.

"We have done an enormous amount on consultation on this. We have put in a lot of things like right-turn lanes in the past but it isn't always possible, and by-passes are not always the answer.

"I don't know why he (Mr Gunson) is saying these things now and it would be useful if he talked to me about it."

Mr Monk added: "We have a responsibility for roads in Suffolk and I'm content with what we've done.

"We make sure our own house is in order before we start looking over county borders."

The improvements, which will cost about £30,000, will see the 50mph speed limit running from Coddenham, where the A140 joins the A14, to Scole, apart from where lower limits are imposed.

The speed limits, which could be in place within months, will be supported by vehicle-activated signs displaying the messages "TOO CLOSE" or "TOO FAST" - or both.

Police are supporting the plans, but have expressed concerns the new limits will be difficult to enforce.

Members of the county council's rights of way sub-committee meet to discuss the plans on Tuesday.

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