Lowestoft: Suffolk Cabinet hits back in the row over the bridge ‘nobody wants’

Lowestoft bascule Bridge - the proposed new bridge would be just above it in this picture by Mike Pa

Lowestoft bascule Bridge - the proposed new bridge would be just above it in this picture by Mike Page. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council has hit back in the row over the £2m new bridge that came under fire from local councillors earlier this week.

The cabinet gave the go-ahead for the county to seek compulsory purchase orders to allow the construction of a new swing bridge for pedestrians and cyclists in Lowestoft.

But the approval by the Conservative-run cabinet came only after Labour and UKIP councillors from Suffolk’s second largest town said no one in Lowestoft wanted the bridge and the money would be better spent on other projects.

Senior Conservative councillors were irritated by what they saw as an “ambush” at the cabinet meeting – and felt they were not able to put across the case well enough.

Now they insist that the scheme was always going to go ahead – it had already been approved before the meeting and the only issue left was to confirm the compulsory purchase orders.

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Graham Newman, cabinet member for transport said: “I dispute this is the bridge that nobody wants.

“Back in 2011 when this programme of sustainable transport measures came about, we consulted with the public and received positive feedback that improved sustainable transport in Lowestoft would be welcomed and would encourage more people to travel sustainably.

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“The project is also supported by Waveney District Council, and it forms part of their Local Development Framework and infrastructure plans for the town centre.

“The money for this project has come from a government sustainable transport fund.

“It is therefore not possible for it to be transferred to a major capital road scheme such as a third crossing over Lake Lothing.”

During the cabinet meeting, newly-elected Labour councillor Len Jacklin told members that during his campaign there had been two questions on the doorstep: “One was ‘When are we going to get the third river crossing?’; and the other was ‘What are you going to do to stop this stupid cycle bridge?’.”

The bridge is part of a £6m scheme to improve pedestrian, cycle, and public transport routes around Lowestoft and make it easier to cross the lake that splits the town.

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