East Suffolk: Former MP’s A12 bypass regret
A LONG-serving former MP for Suffolk Coastal has said that not being able to secure a much-needed bypass for the A12 is the biggest regret of his time in office.
John Gummer said it was a “real sadness” to him that he could not deliver the project despite more than 30 years of campaigning.
The former cabinet minister – who now sits in the House of Lords and is known as Lord Deben – said he would do everything in his power to help the four villages bypass scheme happen.
The EADT is running a campaign, Bypass 4 The Villages, to call for action on the road and end decades of traffic misery for residents living along the route of the A12 at Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew, Farnham and Marlesford.
Lord Deben, who was Suffolk Coastal MP for 27 years before opting not to contest the seat at last year’s General Election, said: “It is one of the real sadnesses of my time as MP that we didn’t achieve the bypass.
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“It was something I started on in 1975, one of my very first campaigns.
“It got to an advanced stage in the 1990s before it was cancelled by the then Conservative government.
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“It was a great disappointment to me, as I always hoped I could complete it.
“There would be great benefits to those villages and it isn’t acceptable people should live their lives with that sort of traffic pressure.”
The 71-year-old said he had spoken to his successor as Suffolk Coastal MP, Therese Coffey, about making the scheme one of her key priorities and that he would help in any way he could in the House of Lords.
He added: “I believe this campaign is absolutely vital and the route is there – there’s no real difficulty about that.”
Lord Deben said the bypass – plus improved rail links – would be of huge benefit to the local economy and a particular fillip to Lowestoft.
“Lowestoft is dependant on the A12 and unless road improvements are made we will find it ever more difficult to create jobs there,” he said. “We won the battle to keep Lowestoft in Suffolk, now we need to have this bypass – it’s all part of the same thing.”
Villagers believe their best chance of securing funding for the bypass could be through energy giant EDF’s plans for a new nuclear plant at Sizewell.
The EADT believes the road is crucial to protect the villages regardless of any further development and is calling for support for the project.