South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge says the necessary factors to bring Sudbury’s long-running bypass proposal into reality are at last starting to align, after welcoming a government minister to the town.
Mr Cartlidge hosted roads minister Jesse Norman on Thursday afternoon, to demonstrate Sudbury’s current traffic and congestion problems and make the case for the proposed £40 million relief road and the benefits it would bring to the area.
The town is hoping to capitalise on the opportunity presented by the UK Department of Transport’s new £1 billion annual fund, paid for with vehicle excise duty receipts, which will allow local authorities to apply for grants for bypass projects.
Joined by Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble and Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairman Mark Pendlington, Mr Cartlidge described the meeting as a great success and said the broad local and regional support the bypass proposal had meant there was “a very good chance” of moving the plan forward.
“I was delighted that the first ministerial visit by the roads minister, after the announcement of the new bypass fund, was to Sudbury,” he said.
“Jesse Norman, the minister, was clearly struck by the congestion we experienced as we drove around the town, particularly in Cross Street.
“Since being elected as the MP, I have tried to do all I can to advance the case for a bypass because I feel very strongly that it is in the best interests of my constituency’s largest town.
“We have backing from Babergh, Braintree and Essex councils, as well as the Haven Gateway Partnership.
“The chamber of commerce and local businesses are supportive, and I know from the doorstep that many people in Sudbury would support a bypass.
“Most importantly, we have an initial business case that shows significant economic and traffic reducing benefits.”
Mr Cartlidge warned that there has never been a guarantee the bypass would be delivered, due to the sheer amount of competition from similar proposals coming from all around the nation, and he said the ongoing campaign for the Sudbury relief road had to be taken forward with a degree of realism.
But he added: “I know it is not an exaggeration to say that the necessary strands for success seem to be aligning.
“While we always need to be realistic about our expectations and rigorous in our approach to building a business case, we need to seize this opportunity and I will do all I can to keep moving this issue forward.”