Business chiefs plead for A12 investment

Major improvements to the A12 between Lowestoft and Ipswich are essential to ensure future investment in the Waveney area, according to business leaders.

Major improvements to the A12 between Lowestoft and Ipswich are essential to ensure future investment in the Waveney area, according to business leaders.

The Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce has fired off a letter to transport chiefs and leading politicians insisting dual carriageway bypasses are the only way to improve the main route between Suffolk's two biggest towns.

In the letter, the chamber's chief officer, Linda Thornton, said businesses were adversely affected by the road, which winds its way through several villages.

She also insists that anything less than the proposed bypass around the Little Glemham, Marlesford and Stratford St Andrew area would be inadequate.

Just before Christmas, a consultant's report to Suffolk county councillors said a full dual carriageway bypass scheme should be pursued, but any project would be reliant on major funding from the government.

Ms Thornton's letter says: "As you know this chamber is committed to a sustainable long-term solution to the problems of the A12, which have an adverse impact on the businesses we represent.

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"You should be aware that our position stems from not just reducing journey times, although this is clearly important, but also the quality of the road systems, which has an impact on the state of produce at destination, as well as fuel costs and the impact on the environment."

At the moment, the A12 route between Lowestoft and Ipswich is dualled for less than a quarter of its 44-mile length and last month ministers committed £2.8m to maintaining sections of the route and also the A140 through Suffolk.

While the cash will pay for short-term measures to tackle problems, a meeting of county councillors was told that work on new bypasses was unlikely to happen for many years. However, Guy McGregor, the authority's portfolio holder for roads and transport, said a major study pointing to the need for new roads would keep the issue up the agenda.

The chamber of commerce stressed that road improvement projects would complement the work currently being undertaken by the 1st East Urban Regeneration Company in Lowestoft and Yarmouth,

County and district councillor Wendy Mawer, who is responsible for overseeing regeneration at Waveney District Council, backed the chamber's calls.

She said: "Any pressure to upgrade the A12 has got my support. Unfortunately, there is little the county council can do about it; we need support for it from a much higher body.

"We've got to get a campaign going that will take it to the highest possible level."