Suffolk/Lowestoft: Unwanted bridge in Lowestoft gets £2 million backing

Lowestoft bascule Bridge - the proposed new bridge would be just above it in this picture by Mike Pa

Lowestoft bascule Bridge - the proposed new bridge would be just above it in this picture by Mike Page. - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a £2 million swing bridge in Lowestoft will go ahead – despite claims that no one in the town actually wants it.

The bridge, for pedestrians and cyclists, would be build a few yards west of the bascule bridge that is a serious bottleneck in the town.

The bridge is a major part of proposals for a £6 million footpath and cycle path network in the town which is being largely funded by a £5 million grant from Department for Transport.

However at this week's county council cabinet meeting, members from Lowestoft said the town did not want or need a new foot and cycle bridge – and the money would be better spent on other projects.

Labour councillor Len Jacklin said that during the campaign leading up to May's county council elections, there were two key questions on the doorstep.

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'One was 'When are we going to get the third river crossing?' And the other was 'What are you going to do to stop this stupid cycle bridge?'

'I don't know anyone in the town who wants it apart from a few Tory councillors – we don't need another footbridge, there's enough room on the bascule bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. This money would be better spent on developing a proposal for the third river crossing that is really needed.'

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He was backed up by UKIP councillor Bill Mountford: 'If you speak to anyone in Lowestoft, they will tell you that we don't need this bridge and the money could be spent on other things.

'I've only ever come across two people in Lowestoft who wanted the bridge – and they're both Tory councillors who lost their seats in May!'

Labour councillor Janet Craig previously worked for cycling charity Sustrans and said the £2 million earmarked for the bridge could be better spent on more cycle routes around the town – and converting the wide pavements on the bascule bridge into areas for cyclists as well as pedestrians.

The Lowestoft Local Links Project is being promoted by the county and Waveney councils – and cabinet member for transport Graham Newman said the bridge proposal was a key part of the scheme.

He said: 'The £2 million for the bridge is allocated to that part of the project. It cannot be spent on anything else. If we don't spend it on the bridge we lose it!'

Mr Jacklin suggested that in that case the money should be returned to Chancellor George Osborne to show that Suffolk was not prepared to waste money on unwanted projects!

However despite the calls from Lowestoft, the cabinet unanimously voted to back the scheme and to go ahead with compulsory purchase orders to obtain land needed for the bridge.

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