Fresh fears over road delay
By Alison WithersRESIDENTS who have been cut off from the rest of their village by the A12 fear a plan for a new link road could be delayed again.Residents of Old London Road, Capel St Mary, have learned there have been objections to the proposal for a new road to link them with the rest of the village.
By Alison Withers
RESIDENTS who have been cut off from the rest of their village by the A12 fear a plan for a new link road could be delayed again.
Residents of Old London Road, Capel St Mary, have learned there have been objections to the proposal for a new road to link them with the rest of the village.
Despite lengthy negotiations with the Highways Agency, the objectors appear unwilling to withdraw their objections.
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Now fears are growing the long-awaited road, which would join the residents to the rest of Capel St Mary via an existing underpass under the A12, could be put off for a second time.
Because of the objections, they face the possibility of a public inquiry and, if it cannot be dealt with quickly enough for the scheme to begin this financial year, the money could be lost from the Highways' Agency budget.
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Dan Goyder, chairman of the residents' association, said residents had to risk their lives daily by crossing the A12 through a gap in the central reservation at Pound Lane.
The Highways Agency has already said the gap must be closed, but has so far agreed not to do so until the link road was built.
Mr Goyder said: "It's not just a question of the inquiry. We are a bit worried that funding is almost certain to be withdrawn if the money has to be spent in this financial year."
The residents' association is to write to the Highways Agency urging a meeting of all interested parties at the site as soon as possible.
It is asking that Transport Secretary Alistair Darling rejects the two objections and, if that is not possible, pushes for an inquiry to be held urgently.
A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said there had been three objections and so far the objectors had refused to withdraw them.
She added two objections were classified as non-statutory, which meant they could be overruled, but the third was not and the Highways Agency was currently considering the need and timetable for a public inquiry.
Tim Yeo, the Conservative MP for South Suffolk, has been closely involved in supporting the Old London Road residents for more than 10 years.
He pledged last night to do everything he could to help the group in what Mr Yeo called an absurd situation.
"It's outrageous and I really feel for the people who have been waiting for this for so long. I think it's unreasonable that people should be raising objections at this very late stage," he added.
"The timetable for this is now very urgent and as soon as I hear from them I shall write to the Secretary of State in support of their requests."
Five years ago the link road proposal had reached the point where both the route and the money had been agreed.
But the Government cut the roads budget, the scheme was axed and the residents' association had to begin campaigning all over again.
Finance was finally confirmed by the Highways Agency earlier this year and details of the £400,000 scheme were published, with a closing date for objections of August.