Sudbury bypass was “never going to get funding”, say Highways chiefs
Suffolk County Council has defended its decision to pursue traffic calming measures in Sudbury instead of a bypass, claiming that the high costs meant it was “never going to get funding”.
Last month the county council announced that it would not be pursuing a bypass because the costs of between £50million and £70m meant the cost-benefit ratio was not strong enough.Conservative cabinet member for highways Mary Evans said a plan would instead be worked up to improve traffic flow around Sudbury by improving junctions.
The announcement was backed by the council’s Green group which did not want to see a bypass damage the countryside and water meadows, but sparked anger from the Labour group.
At the full council meeting on Thursday, December 6, Mrs Evans defended the decision. She said: “The cost of the bypass has gone up and the benefits according to the government framework has gone down.
“We decided that we cannot pursue an option that cannot be funded – that is a betrayal of what everyone in Sudbury wants.
“What we have decided to do is work with the town council and Babergh District Council to improve the junctions.
“We are going to reinvigorate the stakeholder group that met some years ago of Babergh councillors and cabinet member for highways to look at road improvement.”
Asked why question was not put to the people of Sudbury, she added: “The junction option does not take traffic out of the town it will improve the flow in the town.
“We would not get anybody to fund us [£70m for a bypass] so do we take to Sudbury and have a debate on a road scheme that is never going to get funded or do we try and do something else?”
The council now plans to work with consultancy firm WSP to design more detailed junction improvements, alongside other measures to upgrade walking and cycling routes.
Labour’s transport spokesman Jack Owen said he believed the junction improvements were due to happen alongside a bypass, not instead of.
He said it means the “residents and visitors to our great town will be left with another 40 years of traffic misery”.
Once the junction improvements have been designed, funding will then be sought before a timeline is put in place.
A report published last week, which led to the decision to shelve the plans, however did state that the bypass was an “aspiration for the future”.