Fresh hope for bypass campaign success

By Lisa CleverdonRESIDENTS campaigning for a much-needed bypass for their traffic-choked town are keeping their fingers following a site visit from councillors.

By Lisa Cleverdon

RESIDENTS campaigning for a much-needed bypass for their traffic-choked town are keeping their fingers following a site visit from councillors.

Suffolk County Council's environment and transport portfolio holder, Julian Swainson, visited Brandon yesterday to formally assess the need to tackle traffic congestion in the town.

His visit sparked renewed hope within the community, which had all but given up hope for a successful conclusion to its 20-year bypass campaign.

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Members of the Brandon Residents' Association and the Brandon Action Group met Mr Swainson to show him the extent of the problem on the A1065, a road packed with traffic passing through the town on its way to Norfolk.

Residents' association chairman, Charles Clarke, said tailbacks of up to two-and-a-half miles can build up along the road at busy times.

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“It gets especially busy at this time of year and people are really fed up with it,” he added.

“Lorries often mount the pavement because the road is not wide enough for them and it is a real danger to people walking along the pavement.”

The proposed multi-million-pound bypass would allow passing traffic to be diverted around the town.

Brandon Action Group secretary and Forest Heath district councillor, Eddie Stewart, said the bypass was vital if the town was to be preserved for future generations.

“I think we have been given a real boost by Mr Swainson's visit and I am very positive that we have a real chance of securing a bypass for the town,” he added.

“For a long time it just felt as though we were seeing a lot of talk and no action, but this is a real step forward.

“At the moment one of our biggest problems is encouraging businesses to invest in the town because no-one wants to shop here as a result of the traffic, and the shops that are already here are suffering.

“We want a bypass that will allow this town to grow and prosper, with better facilities for young people, and now we will just have to wait and see what the decision from the council is as to whether our scheme goes forward or not.”

Mr Swainson said the Brandon bypass was one of 19 schemes that were being considered to go on a shortlist for possible Government funding as part of the county council's local transport plan.

“Any scheme of this type has to meet specific Government targets, including those regarding safety, the economic and environmental impact, and accessibility,” he added.

“If the criteria is not met completely and it does not offer good value for money, then it is unlikely to be supported by the Government.

“The problems facing Brandon are clear, but the planned route for the bypass could face possible environmental challenges, which will need to be looked at in more detail.

“But this is a very strong contender for the shortlist of schemes and has good cross-party support, so it is very well placed.

“Getting on the council's priority list will be a huge boost for the scheme, but there will still be a lot of work to do to secure funding for the bypass.”

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