Sudbury steps up by-pass fight
By Patrick LowmanROADS bosses have promised to keep fighting for a long-awaited bypass for a traffic-choked town, despite mounting opposition that could scupper the scheme.
By Patrick Lowman
ROADS bosses have promised to keep fighting for a long-awaited bypass for a traffic-choked town, despite mounting opposition that could scupper the scheme.
Suffolk County Council is due to take its case for a £30million western bypass in Sudbury to the Government next month, hoping to have the project included in its next transport plan starting in 2006.
But Government officials have warned the route will not be approved unless it gets support from local authorities in Essex.
And despite a number of meetings, delegates from Suffolk have failed to convince their council counterparts in Essex to back the scheme.
The talks have hit an obstacle because a small section of the road crosses the county boundary into Essex on to land owned by Braintree District Council.
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Essex County Council, Braintree District Council and Halstead Town Council have so far refused to back the scheme. Their opposition is based on fears the bypass would generate more traffic on the A131 between Sudbury and Halstead and could damage the demand for Halstead's own bypass.
Essex County Council also claims there is little justification for the scheme and is concerned about the environmental impact it would have on Essex communities along the A131.
People in Sudbury have been campaigning for the bypass to remove congestion from its historic core for 30 years and now fear the scheme will be axed due the feelings in Essex.
This week, concerned Sudbury councillors discussed the problem and have urged the county council to do everything in its power to keep the scheme alive.
Lesley Ford said: "To claim that our western bypass would increase traffic in Halstead and Braintree belies the fact that much London-bound traffic from Sudbury already goes through Halstead and Sudbury and is not a credible argument against Sudbury getting its desperately needed relief road.
"Their decisions smack of self interest of a minority of people who do not want this relief road, rather than a reflection of the needs of the area."
Sudbury councillors voted to write to Suffolk County Council urging it to do more to convince Essex of the need for the bypass.
Suffolk County Council's strategic policy manager Peter Grimm said: "We put a bid for funding to the Government for the bypass in July and are waiting for its decision due in December.
"We have been working closely with Essex County Council and Braintree District Council to try and get their support for the scheme. We have maintained close contact with them and are currently awaiting their response. We will continue to work with all the authorities to try and move this scheme forward."