Outdated road system must be improved, argue campaigners

MAKING PROGRESS: Simon Barrett and Nigel Bennett say the Sudbury Steering Group is allowing useful discussions for traffic solutions.
MAKING PROGRESS: Simon Barrett and Nigel Bennett say the Sudbury Steering Group is allowing useful discussions for traffic solutions.

The introduction of a 20mph speed limit in Sudbury town centre could be back on the agenda following a heated community meeting to tackle traffic issues.

Hopes of implementing the scheme – to help congestion, decrease pollution and improve safety – had been all but written off after new guidelines were brought in by Suffolk County Council ruling out lower speed limits on A and B roads.

But during a meeting at All Saints’ Church on Tuesday, Graham Newman, the council’s cabinet member for roads, transport and planning, agreed that the authority would look at this measure once again, following pressure from residents.

This is because many feel exceptional circumstances are at play in Sudbury.

“The 20mph limit is a clear message coming out and we will take that back,” said Mr Newman.

“It is a question of what we can deliver – we want what residents want.”

The meeting was organised by Cross Street resident Luke Cresswell following a perceived lack of action to solve the town’s major traffic problems, including the air quality in Cross Street, the large number of HGVs using the town as a through route and Belle Vue junction.

Mr Cresswell said the county council was either being “clueless” or ignoring townspeople when it came to a future plan.

Steve Merry, assistant area manager for highways at the authority, said attempts had been made with Babergh District Council to ease pollution in affected streets by removing parking and putting in a one-way system.

“We reached an impasse in Cross Street as residents were against the removal of parking and the A131 remains a strategic lorry route,” he said.

Mr Merry said the council was likely to revisit the option of taking away parking, while Mr Newman said the authority would flag up that the A131 should not be used by lorries passing through, but there were no regulations to prevent this and the alternative of the A12 or A14 could take twice as long.

Many of the 50-plus residents gathered at the meeting also complained that the town’s one-way system was “outdated” and there were problems with HGVs turning left from Girling Street into East Street and up a narrow road, where cars are often parked.

They were told, however, that only three per cent of traffic taking this route weighed more than 7.5 tonnes – the same as Benton Street in Hadleigh.

Shopkeeper David Holland said despite £322,869 being available for improvements, with work on Belle Vue roundabout at the top of the agenda, there was no clear plan.

“There is no apparent will to get on with solving the problem for Sudbury as a whole,” he said.

But Simon Barrett and Nigel Bennett, town and district councillors, said the Sudbury Steering Group was making positive steps.

“For the first time, we are getting people around the table to solve these problems,” said Mr Bennett.

Mr Newman said he shared residents’ frustrations and expected the outcome of efforts to get proposals for a bypass back on the agenda would be known at the end of July.