Road campaigners disappointed after Channel 4 documentary fronted by Good Life actress Penelope Keith axes A12 bypass programme

The Good Life star Penelope Keith

The Good Life star Penelope Keith - Credit: PA

Campaigners battling to alleviate long-standing traffic problems in their east Suffolk villages have been disappointed by the axing of a documentary that would have highlighted their plight on national television.

Penelope Keith, who played Margo in The Good Life, visited Farnham and Stratford St Andrew earlier this year to witness the heavy A12 traffic that ploughs through the villages and its impact on the community, which has been campaigning for a bypass.

The Four Villages Bypass Group had hoped the appearance on Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages, which is airing in Channel 4, would strengthen their message. It would have come at a crucial time, in the midst of negotiations between Suffolk County Council and EDF Energy, over how the bypass – around Farnham, Stratford St Andrew, Little Glemham and Marlesford – might be funded using contributions from the Sizewell C power plant scheme.

Reef Television’s decision not to include it in the final series was therefore taken as a blow for the campaigners’ attempts.

Debbi Tayler, a spokesman for the campaigners, said she could understand the production company’s decision but the group would not be deterred from its mission.

“The documentary has still helped to give us some great publicity in the EADT and BBC Radio Suffolk and so we are going to use that to galvanise our efforts,” she said.

“We are in a bit of a vacuum at the moment, nothing is really happening, it seems like we’re a forgotten corner, which is why we have taken our own approach by making road side signs highlighting the campaign to get the message out to passing motorists.”

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Lord Marlesford, who has supported the campaign since its inception, said he is concerned EDF may put pressure on SCC to downscale the bypass proposal to cover just two villages – Stratford St Andrew and Farnham – an option he says no one in the villages wants.

He is pressing for the full four villages bypass, even if this means using a cheaper single carriageway, estimated to cost £45m rather than the £105m dual carriageway option. A two villages bypass is thought to cost £27m, however Lord Marlesford said it would preclude any further extension to cover the remaining villages, and would be the worst of all options.

EDF said more details on the plans and transportation infrastructure would emerge in stage two of the consultation next year.

For more on the Bypass 4 the Villages campaign, see our campaign page here

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