David Cameron promises third Lowestoft crossing by 2020

Prime Minister, David Cameron with conservative candidate Peter Aldous looking over the bascule brid

Prime Minister, David Cameron with conservative candidate Peter Aldous looking over the bascule bridge. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Prime minister David Cameron has pledged Lowestoft's long-awaited third crossing would be built by 2020 under a future Conservative government on a visit to the town – but has been accused of making an opportunistic promise a couple of weeks ahead of the election.

Prime Minister David Cameron visiting Lowestoft with conservative candidate Peter Aldous.

Prime Minister David Cameron visiting Lowestoft with conservative candidate Peter Aldous. - Credit: Nick Butcher

In what his political aides described a 'game-changing' moment, Mr Cameron said: 'It has got to be done in the next parliament. It has gone on long enough.'

He said he believed a consensus had developed behind where a new bridge should be built, after Waveney's Conservative candidate Peter Aldous changed his view to favour the more popular 'central' route over Lake Lothing.

He had backed an 'eastern' option, near the existing bascule bridge, which was widely criticised. Mr Cameron said the money needed for the scheme – thought to be about £80m – was available from a mixture of central and local government funding.

'The electorate know what they're getting with the Conservatives,' he said. 'They get the A11, they get the A12,they will get the third crossing.'

Prime Minister, David Cameron with conservative candidate Peter Aldous looking over the bascule brid

Prime Minister, David Cameron with conservative candidate Peter Aldous looking over the bascule bridge. - Credit: Nick Butcher

However his political opponents have criticised him for making a promise so close to a general election after not giving any guarantees about whether or not a crossing would be built on his previous visits to the town.

It was a strong change in position from his last visit to Lowestoft in February when he stopped short of giving any firm commitment, saying it was down to Suffolk County Council to draw up a plan.

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Bob Blizzard, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Waveney, said: 'This is a desperate ploy by a desperate politician. Making a promise like that less than two weeks before an election is something few people will believe.'

However Labour has also been criticised for not being clear about its position on a third crossing.

On a visit to Lowestoft in December, Labour leader Ed Miliband also stopped short of a firm commitment – but it was later reported that he had said a third crossing would be built once a scheme has been put forward by Suffolk County Council.

Labour has also not pledged a date when the crossing would be built.

'The commitment is that as soon as a bid comes in, it will get built,' Mr Blizzard said.

Mr Aldous said: 'One of the things I hear is people saying we've heard it all before and that they don't believe it will happen.'

A scheme for a third crossing was stopped by the Thatcher government, and Mr Cameron was also shown a map dating back to 1966 – the year he was born – to highlight how long the issue has rumbled on.

'All I can say is that if I'm re-elected, it's my duty and a Conservative government's to hold to the commitment made here today to make sure that does happen.'

The Conservative manifesto, published yesterday, also lists a commitment that a study for a third crossing in Lowestoft will be ready by the 2016 Budget.

• What do you think? Write, giving your full contact details, to andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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