Sudbury bypass boost

THE future of a £30 million bypass scheme is back on the agenda after a meeting of representatives from councils on both sides of the Suffolk/Essex border.

THE future of a £30 million bypass scheme is back on the agenda after a meeting of representatives from councils on both sides of the Suffolk/Essex border.

Earlier this year it looked like the scheme could stall when the Department for Transport warned the scheme would fail if it was not supported by Essex County Council and Braintree District Council.

Representatives from Essex and Suffolk County Councils and Braintree and Babergh District Councils met last week to discuss the proposed Sudbury Western Bypass.

Difficulties had arisen because a small part of the proposed 3.2km route would cross the county border into Essex and the two Essex councils had raised concerns about the scheme's impact on the county's environment and on its own road plans.

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Tim Yeo, South Suffolk MP who had pushed for the meeting said: "The important thing is that there is dialogue again between Suffolk and Essex."

Julian Swainson, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for transport, said: "Of all the potential road schemes in the county it's the one with most community support and the greatest likelihood of getting proper funding."

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He added: "We knew the bid would not succeed without their [Essex and Braintree] support so we needed to address any concerns they might have.

"With any scheme like this there are difficulties and the landscape in the Sudbury area is very high quality so wherever we build a relief road there's going to be some environmental impact. There's a balance between improving the environment in Sudbury, which is suffering very badly from traffic, and the impact on the countryside.

"The environmental quality of the finished scheme is being given very high priority."

Mr Swainson said he was confident that the issues could be resolved by discussion they had been for the recent work at Ballingdon Bridge, Sudbury.

Rodney Bass, cabinet member for transport for Essex County Council was at Friday's meeting in Chelmsford and explained there were three main concerns on the Essex side of the border.

The county council was primarily concerned that the Sudbury Western bypass scheme should not weaken its case for extra slip roads from the A134 onto the A12 at Gt Horkesley and also, although it was not directly Essex' concern, that more work needed to be done to justify the bypass and its effects on through routes.

The other issue, which particularly concerned Braintree District Council, he said, was the possible environmental impact of extra traffic on the villages south of the Suffolk border and in particular in the centre of Halstead. He said the three issues required further exploration.

He added: "We greatly welcome the opportunity to present those views to Suffolk and I think there was an absolute willingness on the part of the two county councils to work closely to try to look at those traffic issues."

Mr Bass said there was a need for political as well as officer collaboration and once more work had been done on the technical aspects it was important to have further talks between the two political administrations.

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