South Suffolk MP urges positivity about finding solutions to Sudbury's traffic problems, following withdrawal of bypass proposal
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge says it is important to remain objective and positive, after it was confirmed a relief road for Sudbury is no longer being pursued.
Mr Cartlidge, a long-time bypass supporter, stated he had always believed the scheme was the only realistic way to address the HGV traffic problems, and he did not accept the argument that the strategic lorry route could simply be moved, arguing this would send them through nearby villages.
But he conceded the surge in cost estimates, which projected the road could cost up to £70 million, in the outline business case meant it would be very difficult to persuade the Department of Transport (DfT) to part with funding, given the many competing demands for spending.
He said: “No business plan can easily accommodate a near doubling of costs and still come out very positively.
“The latest benefit-to-cost ratio would not pass muster with HM Treasury and a bypass would not be funded, primarily because of the surge in cost estimates.
“However, there is no point crying into our beer. Yes, many people will be disappointed, and a vocal group will be ecstatic.
“But I must say that, what I found when we stood on Market Hill seeking signatures for the bypass petition, a great many residents were on the fence, seeing the benefits of a bypass in principle, but nervous about its potential location.
“It was always very deliberate scaremongering by predetermined opponents to say the bypass would have gone through the water meadows, particularly the stunning area near the Mill Hotel, which we would all have opposed and would have been physically impossible.
“Nevertheless, any route would have been controversial, with opposition from those living in proximity.”
He said there should now be a positive focus on the proposed £10 million of junction improvements in Sudbury, although he emphasised that Suffolk County Council will still need to fight for funding and it must not be assumed that this work will happen.
“Above all, we should tie any such improvements into broader plans for the regeneration of the town’s shopping area, particularly around Belle Vue junction and Hamilton Road,” added Mr Cartlidge.
“Then, we may yet see real benefit in our town for the work so far undertaken – that was the point of it, after all.”