Suffolk’s highways chief pledges support for A12 four villages bypass proposals

The four villages bypass campaigners pictured in Farnham

The four villages bypass campaigners pictured in Farnham

Highways chiefs have made assurances they are fully committed to long-running bypass proposals in east Suffolk in response to concerns that scaled-back versions of the scheme were taking precedence.

Suffolk County Council said it would be pressing for the full four villages bypass, which would see the A12 diverted around Marlesford, Little Glemham, Farnham and Stratford St Andrew.

The assurances come after community leaders backing the proposals called upon highways chiefs to “stop wasting time” by investigating the two villages bypass, covering just Farnham and Stratford St Andrew.

Stephen Burroughes, who represents Marlesford and Little Glemham at the county council, and Lord Marlesford, who is the chairman of Marlesford Parish Council, said such a scheme would be ineffective.

The long-standing campaign has been seeking a bypass around all four of the affected villages, for more than two decades, to alleviate growing congestion concerns.

EDF Energy’s proposals to build Sizewell C nuclear power plant have added new impetus to the campaign, as it is feared construction traffic will worsen congestion on the route.

The county council has been leading negotiations with the energy company, calling for it to help fund the bypass proposals.

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However, Lord Marlesford and Mr Burroughes claim the negotiators are aiming too low by even considering the two villages bypass, which they say would fail to solve the problem, necessitating more costly additions to the scheme further down the line.

Lord Marlesford said: “The county council should abandon the two villages bypass plans, stop wasting public money on that and put all their efforts towards negotiating with EDF for the full four villages bypass.”

Mr Burroughes has supported Lord Marlesford’s calls and said it was time for the county council to “start playing hardball” with EDF.

“Stop wasting time with piecemeal sequential schemes and let’s just get on with it,” he added. “There’s a lot riding on this and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to get some benefits for the community.”

Highways chief Graham Newman, responding to the concerns, said: “We share the views of the Four Village Bypass Campaign in the belief that a four village bypass is the best option to push for, and it has always been the council’s preference for a four village bypass.

“We are committed to working together with local campaigners and the media to put our case forward for central funding to this end.”

County chairman Christopher Hudson has also backed the proposals.

“I’ve been particularly impressed by Lord Marlesford’s cogent economic argument for the four villages bypass, which is very persuasive,” he added.

Debbi Tayler, the clerk for Stratford St Andrew and Farnham Parish Council, said the county council had been supportive of the full scheme.

“What the county council is doing is trying to be realistic about what they might receive and ensuring they have another option on the table,” she added.

EDF Energy said previously it was continuing to consult widely on its plans for Sizewell C and the wider infrastructure issues.

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