Road bosses 'failing' people of Suffolk

THE county's new roads chief claimed last night the Highways Agency was failing the people of Suffolk.Guy McGregor, the county council's new portfolio holder for roads and transport, said he believes the authority could manage and maintain the A14, including the Orwell Bridge, better.

THE county's new roads chief claimed last night the Highways Agency was failing the people of Suffolk.

Guy McGregor, the county council's new portfolio holder for roads and transport, said he believes the authority could manage and maintain the A14, including the Orwell Bridge, better.

His comments come after a series of crashes on the Suffolk stretch of the road in recent weeks, which have seen traffic chaos, delays and gridlock created by road closures.

And speed restrictions are currently in place on a stretch of the road while the Highways Agency carries out an eight-week safety inspection of the Orwell Bridge, also causing tailbacks.


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Currently, the Highways Agency is responsible for the A14 and Orwell Bridge, but Mr McGregor said he fears the body might not be up to the task.

He added: "It seems to me that the Highways Agency, although responsible for the trunk road and the bridge, are not totally in touch with what's going on.

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"Their control room covers motorways but not trunk roads - they wouldn't have automatic knowledge of something happening on a trunk road (like the A14).

"It's quite a serious issue. We can't have Ipswich seizing up like this. I think a better job could and should be done.

"We've demonstrated in the past our capability in managing the Orwell Bridge. Something must be done. If there's an agent who is failing the people of Suffolk then a change needs to be made.

"Last Friday that accident happened at 6am in the morning and the road was closed until 6pm. That's not good enough.

"If the Highways Agency can't manage it and people see them not managing it then maybe someone else should manage it."

Mr McGregor continued: "If we did get it back, I would ensure that Suffolk County Council give out timely and proper information about the conditions of the road.

"Secondly, I'd make sure there was more information on the road itself. I'd also look at the managing of the thing.

"If road conditions were tough I'd make sure the HGV's were parked up safely. We've got to manage this road much, much better. We can't allow this to carry on."

Mr McGregor's stand comes a day after the new leader of Suffolk County Council, Jeremy Pembroke, called for an urgent summit meeting with highways chiefs about the problems on the road.

In Tuesday's EADT, Mr Pembroke said he wanted to host a meeting between the county council, Highways Agency, Suffolk police and Ipswich Borough Council to try to remedy the situation.

Yesterday he said: "I feel my job is to lead on this and speak up for the people and the businesses of Ipswich. I know that we cannot go on like this.

"We've got to look forward to the Olympics. If we're successful in our bid - and I sincerely hope we are - then Ipswich will have a very key role to play.

"For example, Ipswich leads on netball and it's possible that they may want to hold games here but we could have an accident on the A14 before a game and find that the town is blocked.

"We need to have Ipswich free of these sort of problems."

Last night, in response to Mr McGregor's comments, a spokeswoman for the Highways Agency insisted the Government did take the A14 issue seriously.

She said: "In the funding announcement that was made last December by the Secretary of State the department said they would directly fund road improvement schemes on motorways and the A14.

"The other trunk road schemes are going into a regional pot to be considered regionally.

"That shows the importance that the Government attaches to the A14 - it was the only trunk road to be included in the department's funding."

The spokeswoman added: "The Highways Agency will be working with Suffolk police, the county council and other local authorities, emergency services and road haulage associations to look at safety on the A14 in Suffolk to see what improvements may be necessary.

"This will be similar to the forum set up in Cambridgeshire which has worked together to bring forward safety initiatives on the A14 such as improved white lining and signing, traffic signals for a major interchange, and a driver education campaign."

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