Is coronavirus and Brexit holding up third crossing at Lowestoft?
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Suffolk’s largest public sector infrastructure project still hasn’t got the formal go–ahead because of government delays caused by Brexit and the coronavirus crisis.
Plans for the long-awaited Third Crossing at Lowestoft should have been signed off by the Department for Transport at the end of last year - but were delayed by the General Election.
Now all major projects have to go through 10 Downing Street's "grid" for approval by officials there - led by controversial advisor Dominic Cummings - but there has still not been a decision nearly three months after Boris Johnson's election triumph.
The delay has caused frustration in Lowestoft and at Suffolk County Council which has seen four other major infrastructure projects fall by the wayside over the last 12 months.
However Waveney's Conservative MP Peter Aldous remains confident that an announcement the work can start is not far away.
He said: "I have been speaking regularly to Baroness Vere (Roads Minister) and they are aware of the importance of getting a decision on getting the work signed off. That is all we are waiting for because the government has already given the go-ahead.
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"I am hopeful that it will be a reasonably quick decision because it is, as they like to say, 'shovel-ready' and ready to go ahead. But there have been other things hitting Number 10 recently, and especially now the planning for the coronavirus outbreak. But we are still hopeful."
The opposition Labour leader at East Suffolk council, Peter Byatt, said he was concerned to hear that the final sign-off for the third crossing had not yet come through.
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He said: "We know other projects in Suffolk have been lost - but this is something that the town has waited decades for and it would be a real kick in the teeth for everyone if it didn't go ahead now it has reached this stage."
Over the last year Suffolk County Council has been forced to abandon plans for the Upper Orwell Crossing in Ipswich because the costs were under-estimated, and the government turned down funding for the A12 Four Villages bypass between Saxmundham and Wickham Market.
Proposals for a relief road in Sudbury were dropped and the county decided not to back a northern bypass for Ipswich.