Traffic congestion fears grow in town

THE chairman of a community watchdog has spoken of his “increasing alarm” at traffic congestion in Suffolk's county town – and called for “radical new thinking” to tackle the problem.

THE chairman of a community watchdog has spoken of his “increasing alarm” at traffic congestion in Suffolk's county town – and called for “radical new thinking” to tackle the problem.

Jack Chapman, chairman of the Ipswich Society, told the EADT that he fears new development in the town is placing a huge strain on the roads.

And he said more should be done to persuade people to leave their cars at home, even mooting a possible London-style congestion charge as a potential solution.

“The Ipswich Society is becoming increasingly alarmed at the traffic situation in and around the town,” Mr Chapman added.

“The rapid pace of new development is placing too much strain on our existing roads – radical new thinking and policies are desperately needed.

“Basically, when planning applications are given for new housing developments it seems that everybody from the top downwards are quite happy to plan the development.

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“But nobody thinks it's their responsibility to say how are all these people going to get to and from the town centre and to and from work. We can't go on like this forever.

“I don't pretend to have a simple answer, but you can't go on putting more and more people on the existing roads.”

Mr Chapman continued: “I don't see any elected people either at a national or local level who are willing to bite the bullet, but we've got to discourage people from using their cars in the town centre.

“We need to get more people using public transport and bicycles and things like that, otherwise it's going to get worse and worse.

“These simple solutions of widening roads and putting in cycle tracks are only tinkering with the problem.

“We need to change people's attitudes. They've done it in London – Ken Livingstone has bitten the bullet with the congestion charge and it's worked.

“I'm not saying that is the solution here but I think we need to have a look at all the options.”

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, called for a multi-storey car park to be built in the Waterfront area of the town, as well as a relief road carrying traffic from the Gainsborough area of Ipswich onto the A14.

Mr Feltwell added: “We think that is the sort of radical solution that is needed to stop the cross-Ipswich traffic. We agree that it's a problem.

“If nothing is done things are going to get worse and worse. It's something that needs remedying - it needs more public debate, and we think it needs a new road.

“There has been tremendous development in Ipswich and the people from the surrounding areas need to be able to get into town, park and enjoy it.”

Stephen Auld, Head of Transport and Engineering at Ipswich Borough Council, admitted he was concerned about the problem.

He said: “Development is happening rather quickly and that's probably good for the town.

“But, in terms of highways, we are concerned about the traffic that brings because we are not able to build more highways regularly, or create more road space at all.

“When a planning application comes in we seek to reduce the impact on the roads network as much as possible.

“We are taking as many precautions as we can to minimise traffic impact. For example, a new development on the Waterfront now is only allocated one parking space, whereas in the past you would get two.

“We're also using park and ride and there are thousands and thousands of journeys being taken off the roads like that.

“Since park and ride first opened in 1997, one and a half million car journeys have been kept out of Ipswich.”

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