East Suffolk: Nine villages turn up the heat on Suffolk County Council over A12 bypass proposals

A lorry negotiates a tight section of the A12 as it passes through Farnham

A lorry negotiates a tight section of the A12 as it passes through Farnham

Nine villages in east Suffolk have united in calling for firmer action to be taken to achieve long-standing bypass ambitions.

Community leaders, writing to Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee, have demanded that the full four villages bypass be sought as part of the authority’s negotiations with EDF Energy over the construction of Sizewell C’s.

Signed by the chairmen of six parish councils near the proposed bypass route, with support from a further three, the letter represents an unprecedented show of unity on the issue.

It highlights “deep concerns” over comments allegedly made by SCC’s transport chief Graham Newman, who was reported to have said the council was “considering abandoning the project” during a meeting with the Four Villages Bypass Group last month.

The letter demands the council remains true to the full four villages bypass, diverting the A12 around Little Glemham, Marlesford, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, which has been the preferred route since 1996.

Its signatories fear scaled back proposals such as the “short bypass” for Farnham and Stratford St Andrew, allegedly suggested by Mr Newman, would make the full bypass “impossible”.

Mr Bee, responding to the concerns, has insisted the council is wholly committed to the entire four villages bypass.

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“The county council has held this position for more than 10 years but the problem has always been and remains how do we fund the project so road improvements actually get built,” he said.

He added that much of the funding was hoped to arise through the mitigation of Sizewell C in discussions with EDF.

However, with negotiations taking place between SCC and EDF on a confidential basis, the letter’s signatories have condemned these discussions as “secretive”.

“The most affected by the decisions – people who live in the four villages – feel they have been sidelined in a way that is far from democratic,” they write.

“We do not expect EDF in pursuing their legitimate commercial interests to have regard for local concerns. We do expect better of our county council.”

Mr Bee insisted “there is nothing secretive about our discussions with EDF” and said Mr Newman had worked closely with the district council to keep local parishes, campaigners, councillors and local MPs informed.

An EDF Energy spokesman said the company had consulted extensively with the community over stage one of the consultation and would continue to do so in stage two.

The letter has been signed by the chairmen of parish councils in Campsea Ashe, Hacheston, Little Glemham, Marelsford, Parham and Wickham Market. Stratford St Andrew and Farnham parish councils and Great Glemham parish have also written separately.