Urgent talks demanded over A14

THE leader of Suffolk County Council last night called for urgent talks with highways chiefs about problems which have plagued one of the county's busiest roads.

THE leader of Suffolk County Council last night called for urgent talks with highways chiefs about problems which have plagued one of the county's busiest roads.

Jeremy Pembroke said recent traffic chaos on the A14 - caused by a spate of accidents and planned roadworks - was doing damage to the county's image and economy.

The Conservative councillor is calling for a summit meeting to discuss the Highways Agency's management of the A14 - and how congestion problems on the road impact upon Ipswich.

Speed restrictions are currently in place on a stretch of the road while the Highways Agency carries out an eight-week safety inspection of the Orwell Bridge, causing major tailbacks around the Ipswich area.

A number of recent accidents have also caused gridlock on the A14 and in the surrounding area, including an horrific crash on Friday which saw the entire road blocked for four hours and the west-bound carriageway closed for 12 hours.

Mr Pembroke said: "I am inviting the Highways Agency, the police and Ipswich Borough Council to meet with me and Councillor Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads and transport.

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"Road congestion is bad for business, bad for the environment and bad for the image of Suffolk.

"We need to work together to find solutions before the county starts to experience long-term damage to its economy, health and reputation."

Business leaders have repeatedly called for measures to be put in place to deal with disruption on the A14, saying the delays proved very costly to the region's economy.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said last night: "We welcome this initiative to deal with congestion on the A14 and we will be monitoring it very closely.

"The future of business in this part of Suffolk depends on having the best infrastructure we can afford and a rapid response to any problems.

"We have seen a number of accidents on the A14 recently and each time there doesn't seem to be any improvement."

Following Friday's problems on the road - caused by two lorries colliding and one of the vehicles catching fire - the Highways Agency said it reviewed safety after every accident on the A14 and agreed diversion routes with local authorities and the police.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the agency said: "We would be delighted to sit down with Councillor Jeremy Pembroke and the police to see how we can resolve any of these matters and particularly to resolve how any problems impact upon Ipswich."

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