Does the four villages decision jeopardise the northern bypass bid?
PUBLISHED: 08:44 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:44 07 June 2019
Work on a northern bypass for Ipswich will not be affected by the government's decision not to grant funding for a four villages bypass, council chiefs have said.
Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks has vowed to press on with the northern bypass project, and confirmed work was still on course to the timetable set out last year.
It emerged this week that the Department for Transport had told the county council that it would not be backing the £133million four villages bypass, which aims to divert the A12 around Stratford St Andrew, Farnham, Marlesford and Little Glemham.
The DfT raised concerns over the overall value for money it would bring, the environmental impact, and feelings that neither the county council or EDF (as part of the Sizewell C campaign) had stumped up enough cash.
But despite the setback, which follows on from the decision to axe the Upper Orwell Crossings scheme earlier this year because of escalating costs, the county council said the northern bypass work would not be jeopardised.
"The timeline to progress the Ipswich northern route project remains unchanged - we remain on schedule," a spokesman said.
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"Once this is complete we will prepare the strategic outline business case which will be shared with government, local MPs and the public in the autumn. This will be used to inform the funding process."
However, it has emerged that while the outline case in the autumn will inform a funding decision, the full business plan won't be published until 2020.
It has led to concerns from the county council's opposition Labour group that the scheme, considered vital for aiding Ipswich's traffic pressures, will continue to be beset by delays.
Councillor Sarah Adams, Labour group leader at the council said: "I can understand why people are sceptical as to whether the Tories at Suffolk County Council have the will, strength or influence to deliver on the northern bypass.
"This has been rumbling on for years and years. Just when it looked like a business case was going to be produced last year, it got kicked back into the long grass with no proper explanation.
"I hope this is not a sign of further project slippage - the Tories need to show a bit more honesty and reveal their full timetable for delivery.
"They have already thrown £8m of taxpayers money at their Upper Orwell Crossings vanity project and made a complete mess of trying to secure funding for the four-village bypass. Fingers crossed this will be third time lucky."