Town complains of Cinderella treatment

By Dave GooderhamCOUNTY council bosses have been criticised after allocating more than 10 times more money to traffic schemes in Bury St Edmunds than in Haverhill.

By Dave Gooderham

COUNTY council bosses have been criticised after allocating more than 10 times more money to traffic schemes in Bury St Edmunds than in Haverhill.

The decision by Suffolk County Council to award almost £450,000 to Bury St Edmunds and just £35,000 to Haverhill has been met with fury by town and borough councillors.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has approved more than 35 traffic schemes in the two market towns for 2003/04, but its portfolio holder for the environment said he was baffled about the vast difference in funding.

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Jeremy Farthing added: “I find the allocation of finances grossly unfair. Bury St Edmunds needs a lot of work done, but so does Haverhill.

“Haverhill residents won't be very happy and I really cannot see how they can award £500,000 to Bury and Haverhill and only 10% to a town with a population of 22,000.

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“There are various schemes required in Haverhill, but unfortunately they cannot be progressed with for the simple reason that funding is not forthcoming.

“The way this particular allocation has been made is incomprehensible and I want to know why. I will be asking for an early meeting with the portfolio holder at county council level so they explain the logic behind their allocation of funding.”

Mr Farthing said the borough council was committed to Haverhill and pointed to the £407,000 it was spending on the Cleales site as an example of that investment in the town.

“There is a big investment by the borough council into Haverhill and we would like to see Suffolk County Council match these figures,” he added.

“You have to prioritise certain schemes if funding is not forthcoming, but we hope to come back to other schemes in the near future.”

Haverhill Town Council leader Mabon Dane said: “I am absolutely disgusted. Everyone in Haverhill is up in arms about traffic schemes.

“Residents are screaming for help and a measly £35,000 is not going to do anything. We have got some serious problems about traffic in the town and residents will be furious to hear this.

“There are some busy and dangerous roads in Haverhill and we are desperate for some road traffic schemes to reduce congestion and speeding. With that level of funding, we can hardly do anything.”

The money from Suffolk County Council will pay for three schemes in Haverhill - the completion of work in Chivers Road/Chimswell Way, the Safety to School Initiative for the New Cangle Primary School and a modification to the Chalkstone traffic-calming scheme.

Haverhill town councillor Chris Cullum, who has campaigned for traffic improvements on the Chalkstone estate since 1999, said: “I am very disappointed and angry with these figures.

“Haverhill is not getting a fair crack of the whip and the figures are a joke. There are so many serious road issues in the town and they are not being addressed properly.”

David Chenery, the county council's traffic and safety manager, said Haverhill was getting a similar amount of money spent on traffic issues compared to Sudbury and Newmarket.

He added: “Historically, funding for the three largest towns in the county, Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, has been quite large.

“For several years there has been heavy investment in these towns as we can influence a large number of people.

“Haverhill has in the past benefited from funding from both the county and borough councils and we feel they are getting a good comparable slice of the cake.”

The county council-funded schemes in Bury St Edmunds include traffic calming measures, safety to school initiatives and accident prevention schemes.

The largest amount of money is expected to be spent in Horringer Road, where £80,000 has been pencilled in for traffic calming.

A further £68,000 will be spent on traffic lights and improved pedestrian access in Station Hill/Out Northgate, while it is hoped speeding motorists in the Brackland area will be curbed with a £65,000 scheme.

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