Decision due next month on future of Suffolk’s roads

THE future management of most of Suffolk's roads will be decided in November – and could see the network handed over to a private company.

Contracts for managing the county council's road network – every road in Suffolk apart from the A14, A11, and A12 between Ipswich and the Essex border and between Lowestoft and the Norfolk border – expire in March 2013.

And a new management structure for the roads network is to start in April 2013.

For the first time this will include roads in Ipswich which are currently maintained by the borough council, but which will be included with the rest of the county's network. Three alternative ways of managing the network are under consideration:

• Handing over the management to a commercial company which would be paid a fee to manage the network on behalf of the county;

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• Setting up a private/public partnership, part-owned by the county, to manage the network;

• Or setting up a company to manage the road network which would be wholly-owned by the county council.

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The options are due to be discussed by members of the county's scrutiny committee next week but a final decision on the future management of the roads will not be taken until a meeting of the county's cabinet takes place in November.

County councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor said he could not comment on which was his favoured option at present because reports were still being compiled by county officials.

He said that whatever option was chosen, Suffolk would be letting its own contracts – but would be able to co-operate with Norfolk, which was letting contracts at the same time.

'The size of Suffolk makes it right to be a stand-alone contract. But the fact that Norfolk will be looking to let contracts at the same time means both counties can co-operate on issues like procurement and that should be an advantage.'

That could make it easier to maintain roads which cross the county boundary – although how the two authorities will co-operate has still to be decided.

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