The MP for South Suffolk says Sudbury has “the best opportunity for a long time” to deliver a bypass for the town, after the launch of a new petition seeking public support for the project.
Business leaders, community organisations and people across the political spectrum gathered in Sudbury Town Hall on Friday to mark the launch of a campaign, which is collecting signatures to show support for a relief road, to ease long-standing local congestion problems.
The petition will be presented to the House of Commons in the hope of gaining backing from the Department of Transport, which announced a £1 billion annual fund for bypass projects this year.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said the petition is part of a larger effort to remind ministers of Sudbury’s traffic issues and show the positive business case for introducing a new road.
“While there will inevitably be people who oppose the bypass, my instinct is that the majority of people in Sudbury and the surrounding areas support it,” he said.
“I want to be in a position where I can stand in the House of Commons and say ‘I have a petition supporting the Sudbury bypass with so many signatures on it’.
“That in itself doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s all about these different pieces coming together.”
The petition will now be circulated to the public and businesses, and is available from town and parish council offices in the Sudbury area.
Gary Harvey, CEO of the MEL Group, an aviation company based in Sudbury, confirmed staff at the firm were strongly on board with the project and had already delivered a full set of signatures in support of the petition.
Specific details about the bypass have not yet been set out, and concerns remain over what environmental impact there will be, as a portion of countryside would likely need to be sacrificed for the road to be built.
However, Mr Cartlidge said mitigation measures would be built in, and he felt there would ultimately be “significant environmental gains” by reducing congestion and pollution.
Anne Grimshaw, committee member for The Sudbury Society, said she believes the town could benefit from a relief road the way other places had, but added the route it takes is a crucial detail.
“When you come here, you quickly work out there’s a traffic problem,” she said. “A bypass has worked in other places, so why not here?
“If anybody will be put off, it will be on environmental grounds. Obviously, there will be some impact.
“I’m sure it can be done if there’s a will to do it, and not at the expense of the countryside.”