April 18 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 20, 2013
Calls for a third crossing to be built to tackle long-standing traffic problems in Lowestoft were given new impetus yesterday when Suffolk County Council agreed to commission a feasibility study.
A new crossing over Lake Lothing has been the subject of discussion and debate for decades.
But yesterday, despite some last-minute political wrangling, the long-mooted project finally moved forward when the ruling Conservative group backed a Labour-sponsored motion at the full council meeting, which commits the authority to carrying out a full feasibility study.
Leader of the UKIP group, Bill Mountford, who represents Lowestoft South, had put forward a motion calling on the council to reaffirm its commitment to the crossing over Lake Lothing.
Mr Mountford said Lowestoft had been in apparent terminal decline for many years, and desperately needed major investment to attract new businesses.
He added: “When you have a situation where the town can be cut in two as it was for 90 minutes during the rush hour recently, is it surprising that businesses are reluctant to come to Lowestoft?”
In response to the motion, a joint Labour/Conservative amendment was put forward, which hardened UKIP’s call by committing the cabinet to carrying out the feasibility study.
Labour group leader Sandy Martin said: “Labour councillors believe a third crossing will have an enormous effect on the level of traffic congestion in Lowestoft, and will also enable pedestrianisation of Station Square, thus massively improving the town centre experience for shoppers and holidaymakers. It will also relieve much of the traffic from Oulton Broad, thus enhancing this as a tourist destination.”
He said the cross-party consensus was vital for the issue.
Conservative council leader Mark Bee said the authority, along with Waveney District Council and Waveney MP Peter Aldous, were fully committed to the drive to resolve Lowestoft’s congestion problems, including looking at the issue of a third crossing.
He said: “Today we are committing the county council to carrying out a full and comprehensive feasibility study which will help move the issue forward significantly.
“Alleviating congestion in Lowestoft will help to regenerate the town and make it a better place for people who live, work and visit.”
However, Mr Mountford said his group was not able to accept the amendment, saying it appeared to be putting the issue on the back-burner. He said: “This needs to be a priority now, not at some point in the future.”
Despite this, the amendment was backed by the Conservative, Labour, and LibDem groups – and eventually the amended motion was unanimously passed.
Speaking before the meeting, businessman Peter Colby, who wants to build a £30m tidal barrage crossing, said he was pleased Mr Mountford had started the ball rolling with his motion.
He said: “I will support anybody who is looking to make Lowestoft work as a town.”
In June 2007, the then Waveney MP Bob Blizzard launched a petition for a third crossing over Lake Lothing, to ease congestion, It attracted more than 12,000 signatures.
Two years later, the then transport minister, Sadiq Khan, agreed to Mr Blizzard’s request that an Economic Impact Assessment be carried out by the Highways Agency. The agency produced a report in 2009 – the Lake Lothing Third Crossing Feasibility Study – which said the crossing would cost nearly £38m.