Residents urged to join bypass protest

PUBLISHED: 08:02 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:58 22 October 2010

A renewed campaign for a north-south relief road to take heavy traffic away from Swaffham town centre gathered pace with an appeal for more residents to join in the battle.

A renewed campaign for a north-south relief road to take heavy traffic away from Swaffham town centre gathered pace yesterday with an appeal for more residents to join in the battle.

The bypass plan - discussed sporadically at town, district and county council level over many years - was revived at a public meeting in May attended by 60 people and held to discuss traffic safety problems.

One of the campaign leaders, Kate Gordon, of London Street, said: "If we increase our numbers to include as many supporters of the relief road as possible it will enable us to lobby much more effectively."

She said that the group wanted to involve regional and national authorities as well as Breckland Council and Norfolk County Council.

Mrs Gordon added: "Keeping the pressure on is important but slow moving. We were once third in line for a relief road - this time we must keep the case alive."

Saying she was gathering up-to-date figures of vehicle movements, she pointed out that a survey in October 2002 showed 10,900 vehicles drove through the town, including 714 lorries in a 12-hour period.

People at the meeting in May asked for an investigation into safety problems in London Street and Whitecross Road and for a full survey to be conducted into a planned mini-roundabout and pedestrian crossing.

But the work is now likely to go ahead after town councillors approved the scheme at their last meeting.

Civic leaders also agreed to back the campaign for a north-south relief road although Carol Baker, a town councillor and local business owner, said there were concerns that it would take trade away from the town.

Her fears have been echoed in the past by another town councillor, former Chamber of Trade president Sheila Lister, who said: "A number of businesses are worried about the effects of losing passing trade."

But Mrs Gordon said: "We don't want to see the town continuing to be used as a rat-run for big lorries while the rest of the town is dying on its feet.

"We won't get a relief road for something like 10 years, but if we don't start shouting now, we'll never get it."

She added: "Traders in the town fear that a relief road - we avoid calling it a bypass - will affect their businesses but we do not think that's the way it will work.

"A relief road takes the heavy stuff out - for example, lorries with drivers who would never stop in the town and buy things.

"We also want to get appropriate management of traffic in Swaffham to support the economic wellbeing of the town, which would be a livelier and pleasanter place if the lorries were not there."

As well as recruiting residents for the campaign, organisers are also looking for someone to set up a website and have issued an appeal for funds to help meet running costs.

Call Mrs Gordon on 01760 723034; email; or Pat Bowman, 01760 721817;

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