Suffolk: Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore ‘sick to death’ of A14 chaos

ACTION: Tim Passmore.

ACTION: Tim Passmore. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore last night said he was “sick to death” of the Highways Agency’s “incompetence” and “disregard for Suffolk” after a day of gridlock on the A14.

Mr Passmore said he was “staggered” a fuel spillage on the A14 near Nacton following a four-vehicle accident took nearly four hours to clear up, causing havoc for morning commuters yesterday.

His scathing attack comes after motorists were blighted by a litany of incidents on the dual carriageway in a day of misery which prompted heavy traffic across Ipswich and surrounding areas.

But a Highways Agency spokesman insisted the body, responsible for Britain’s main roads, is “committed” to providing safe and reliable journeys in the region.

However he regretted “any inconvenience caused” after a crash involving two flat-bed trucks and two vans on the A14 eastbound slip road at Nacton left commuters frustrated.

A full tank of diesel spilled on to the road and needed to be cleared following the accident which took place at 7.15am. The road was closed and reopened at 11am.

The spokesman explained engineers reopened the road “as soon as it was safe to do so” after police had completed an investigation.

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But Mr Passmore heavily criticised the Highways Agency, lamenting Ipswich and the surrounding area was brought to a standstill “once again” by a “relatively routine incident”.

He said: “I am sick to death of the incompetence of the Highways Agency and their complete disregard for Suffolk and I intend to take this further.

“I am staggered. I really can’t believe that the diesel spill in the morning caused as much trouble as it did.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that the Highways Agency cannot respond to incidents on this major route more swiftly. These persistent problems reflect the agency’s total lack of regard.

“We need a long-term solution to the intolerable gridlock caused whenever there is a major incident on this strategically important road and we need the Highway Agency to take responsibility and be accountable for the problems this is causing right across the county.”

His incendiary remarks followed three other major incidents which caused further congestion.

A trailer which fell off a Land Rover and struck a central reservation at 12pm on the A14 eastbound near the Orwell Bridge caused an afternoon of delays before being cleared at 3.30pm.

A lorry broke down on the A14 eastbound at Pinebrook, Ipswich, at 2.45pm and was removed at 4pm.

Meanwhile, another lorry broke down on the A14 westbound slip road at Nacton at 3.15pm. The incident was cleared by 6pm.

It comes after the entire A14 westbound carriageway and lane two heading in the opposite direction was closed for seven-and-a-half hours in October last year after a lorry overturned and shed its load of onions.

In response to Mr Passmore’s comments, a Highways Agency spokesman said: “We are committed to providing safe and reliable journeys for all road users in East Anglia and are committed to working with police and other emergency services to reduce delays following incidents.”

Referring to the fuel spillage incident, the spokesman added: “We regret any inconvenience caused to road users.

“The incident was complex in that it involved two flat-bed trucks and two vans which had to be recovered from the scene. In addition, a full tank of diesel which spilled on to the road had to be cleared up.

“Once the police had finished their investigation we did all we could to reopen the road as soon as it was safe to do so.”