Highways chiefs are grilled on solving Sudbury’s ‘huge traffic woes’

TOWN TRAFFIC TROUBLE: A lorry makes it way down Cross Street in Sudbury, which has high levels of air pollution.
TOWN TRAFFIC TROUBLE: A lorry makes it way down Cross Street in Sudbury, which has high levels of air pollution.
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Frustration over a perceived lack of action to combat Sudbury’s traffic problems spilled out as transport bosses were quizzed on long-standing issues.

Highways chiefs from Suffolk County Council faced a barrage of questions about what was being done to ease congestion and reduce traffic pollution during a meeting of Sudbury Town Council on Tuesday night.

Councillor Nigel Bennett said he felt more effort needed to go into improving the air quality in Cross Street, which was once described as one of the most polluted roads in Suffolk.

“Everything seems to have gone quiet on that,” said Mr Bennett.

“There are a number of long-term solutions, not just removing parking but downgrading the route and redirecting lorries away from the town centre.”

Residents living in the street have been concerned for years about the unsafe levels of nitrogen dioxide, caused by the volume of heavy traffic using the narrow road.

Suzanne Buck, from the county council, said options to lessen the problem, including taking away parking, were being considered.

“The air quality management plan is being reviewed and we are looking at what is deliverable,” she said. “There is some funding available, but it is not a large amount.”

Mr Bennett said the pollution mainly resulted from HGVs using the road, which is a strategic lorry route from Essex. He said a report into the problems showed HGVs accounted for eight per cent of traffic on the road and 40 per cent of the emissions.

“To get to the bottom of this, we need to reduce HGVs,” he said. “If there are no solutions, someone will need to tell residents they have to live with air quality below safety levels.”

Graham Newman, the county council’s portfolio holder for roads, planning and transport, said it would be difficult to convince lorry drivers to take a longer route, even if it was stipulated.

He added that Suffolk and Norfolk had only a combined budget of £26million over the next five years to deal with such issues.

Lesley Ford-Platt said a Sudbury bypass was desperately required to help matters.

“I get frustrated at the damage HGVs are doing to our historic core,” she said. “Sudbury urgently needs a bypass.”

Mr Newman said nobody could have put more effort into getting a bypass for the town and £500,000 had been spent on the project which was refused by the secretary of state on environmental grounds in 2006.

Mrs Buck said: “We recognise the bypass is still required and it is on our list.”

But Oliver Forder said he was not satisfied.

“We have a huge woe of traffic problems in Sudbury,” he said. “Our patience is short as so little has been done.”

The town council was encouraged to contact a residents’ group in Clare which is campaigning against HGV traffic.