East Suffolk: Campaign for long-awaited A12 bypass

THE East Anglian Daily Times today launches a campaign to end decades of traffic misery for four Suffolk villages on the busy A12.

We are calling for the long-awaited and much-needed A12 four villages bypass – from Wickham Market to the Friday Street junction at Benhall – to finally get the go-ahead.

The campaign, Bypass 4 The Villages, is aimed at improving the quality of life for people living in Little Glemham, Marlesford, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, through which the Ipswich-to-Lowestoft main road passes through.

Residents have long been promised action on the route, which snakes through the four villages on a single, narrow carriageway, after scores of accidents and near-misses over the years and an intolerable impact on village homes.

The A12 through the four villages currently has more than 18,000 vehicles travelling along it every day.

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Funding for the scheme was pulled at the eleventh hour in 1996 after a public inquiry gave the scheme the go-ahead and villagers have suffered the consequences ever since.

Suffolk County Council, which owns the road, is unlikely to be given new government money to build the bypass – costed in 2006 as �56million for a dual carriageway or �32m for a single stretch – but the likely construction of a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell could provide an opportunity for planners and campaigners. Power station owner EDF will be required to invest in local transport infrastructure to justify the building of a new plant and the A12 bypass could be high on the list.

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We believe that the road is needed to protect the villages – and to boost the economy of the county – regardless of any other development and are calling for support from the wider communnity to show the strength of feeling.

Terry Hunt, EADT editor, said: “Enough is enough. Hundreds of people have their quality of life blighted every single day by the huge numbers of vehicles – including juggernauts – which thunder past their homes, 24 hours a day.

“There have been false dawns in the past. What we must have now is a firm commitment to build this much-needed, and long overdue, bypass.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for transport, said the bypass was the “number one priority” for road building in the east of the county.

“The case for the four villages bypass was established – big time – when John Gummer was in government and MP for the area. If that position was justified then, it is even more so now.”

He said he would be happy with a “good quality, well-built” single carriageway bypass.

But Mr McGregor said he believed the EDF development was “certainly” the only chance of securing the money in the current climate and said he would be lobbying the energy firm.

VILLAGERS have watched the A12 grow busier over the years and further impact upon their quality of life.

Now, they believe they may have one final chance to see a bypass built to relieve the pressure on the road, improve safety and allow them to enjoy their homes in comparative peace and quiet.

Debbi Tayler, clerk of Farnham with Stratford St Andrew Parish Council, said: “We feel very strongly about this.

“The road, particularly at Farnham, has not changed for at least 100 years and it is already struggling under the strain of the current level of traffic.

“If the new power station is built, it will generate a lot more traffic on what is already the main commuter route between Felixstowe and London and Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

“People are already running the gauntlet crossing the road with their children every day and for people whose houses are next to the road, their positions will become untenable.”

Lord Marlesford, chairman of Marlesford Parish Council, said: “This has been wanted for well over 20 years and the planning work is done and the route was agreed many years ago.

“Since then, though, the volume of traffic through the villages has increased – partly due to new container traffic from Yarmouth – so it is more important than ever.

“With the EDF plans for the power station, this could be our best chance to finally get the bypass.”

Peter Chaloner, chairman of Little Glemham Parish Council, said he believed EDF’s development plans might be “our only chance” to secure a bypass.

“At the moment the road is running very close to capacity at peak times.

“A bypass would not only improve the quality of life of the people living on the main road, it would make access to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft a lot easier,” he said.

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