Safety work planned for A14

PARISH councillors are angry that a major project to improve the notorious A14 Haughley bends could leave their picture-postcard village suffering from light pollution and extra noise.

PARISH councillors are angry that a major project to improve the notorious A14 Haughley bends could leave their picture-postcard village suffering from light pollution and extra noise.

Councillors at Haughley, near Stowmarket, are thrilled that work is being undertaken to improve the stretch of road which has claimed lives, but are disappointed the route they preferred has not been given top priority in a public consultation exercise.

The Highways Agency will propose two possible routes to improve safety on the stretch of road to the public next week, but the one the parish council had favoured would have seen the new interchange, flyover and roundabouts much nearer Stowmarket.

Details of the two alternative schemes to improve the A14 Haughley bends go on show to the public on Friday and Saturday next week.

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The agency wants to realign the A14 to remove the bends and replace existing sub-standard junctions and accesses with a new two-level junction. The agency says the public consultation will help them develop a scheme which will create a safer road for motorists.

The three routes are as follows:

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N The red route, following the line of the existing A14, would see the interchange midway between the Quarries Cross junction and Fishponds Way;

N The blue route, which does not follow the line of the existing A14, would see the interchange built on open land near the Harleston picnic site.

N And the parish council's preferred site which is past the Tot Hill junction and near the turning to Stowmarket itself.

Parish councillors argue that having the interchange and fly over near the village will leave them suffering from light pollution.

Lord of the manor for Haughley, and a parish councillor, Jeffrey Bowden said: "Why spoil the countryside? Most of the light pollution at the moment is centered around Stowmarket, obviously, and with this interchange there will be lots of lights and it makes sense to keep the light pollution together.

"Surely Government has a moral obligation to think about people's quality of life.''

Mike Pirrie, parish council chairman, said: "We are hopeful the agency will change their minds through people power. We want the road improved, but with these plans there's going to be an orange glow around the village.''

He said that although the

Fellow parish councillor Colin Hart said: "I have been lobbying for this road to be improved for 20 years. There have been many deaths and the bends are horrific.

"We already get a constant drone of traffic, if we get the interchange further away that would improve matters.''

Dennis Frost, parish councillor, said villagers like Haughley the way it is, and if that means they are NIMBYS, so be it.

MP David Ruffley, who represents the Stowmarket area as part of his Bury St Edmunds Constituency, is also concerned at the plans and wants to see a junction closer to Stowmarket.

He said: "It has been made clear many times that the existing residents on the western edge of the town of Stowmarket have poor links to the trunk road for traffic traveling east towards Ipswich, and vice versa.''

But Mid Suffolk District Council has also registered its concern and dismay at the Highways Agency's proposals for the A14 at the Haughley bends, near Stowmarket.

Although council officers recognize that the proposals are extremely helpful to motorists, they believe that the current proposals are isolated strategically and offer no support for other publicly funded initiatives, such as the B1115 relief road.

Council chief executive Andrew Good said he is concerned at the apparent omission of a junction to serve development to the north of Stowmarket and the town itself.

He said: "Such an omission is not consistent with the need for a joined up approach to road infrastructure, highway safety and economic regeneration opportunities.''

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the public consultations to be held next week will be an opportunity for people to hear about the plans, the reasons for them, and why other options were not included.

She said a flyover was not being put in close to Stowmarket, which would involve a long link road, was rejected for reasons including environmental issues.

N The plans for the A14 Haughley bends will be on show at the Ron Crascall Pavilion in Green Road, Haughley next week, from 11am to 8pm on Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturday.

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