Transport minister supports major improvements in Lowestoft
Plans to ease congestion on the traffic-snarled streets of Lowestoft were given the seal of approval by a government minister today.
Parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Norman Baker was in Lowestoft to see Suffolk County Council's �6.25m scheme to improve transport services for rail users, cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
With a new four-metre wide swing bridge to be built across Lake Lothing at the heart of the improvements, it will mean that in the future cyclists and pedestrians can avoid the often-congested bascule bridge crossing as it will be easier for them to reach the town centre.
The transport minister toured the town's rail station and harbour and learned more about the programme which will also feature improved access between bus and rail services at the station and a new orbital bus service connecting key employment, leisure and tourism sites on the edge of Lowestoft with the town centre.
The scheme also includes funding to promote cycling to school and work, as well as supporting sustainable economic growth and reducing carbon emissions in the town.
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For decades people in Lowestoft have clamoured for a third crossing to be built in the town.
Speaking about this today, Mr Baker said: 'This is a matter for the county council to decide what their regional priorities are.'
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Earlier this year Suffolk County Council was awarded �5m from the Department of Transport's local sustainable transport fund to provide funding to support the range of transport improvement measures in Lowestoft, with the rest of the funding coming from council coffers.
The council's bid to the government was supported by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Waveney District Council, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Associated British Ports and bus and train companies.
On his first visit to Lowestoft, the transport minister said: 'This funding will make a big difference to the area – creating growth and cutting carbon in a way that exactly meets the twin objectives of the local sustainable transport fund. 'I'm especially pleased to see the proposals for integrated bus ticketing, which will be crucial in allowing passengers to move around the town more easily.
'I am encouraged by the determination of the district council and the county council to help create jobs, cut carbon and tie that in with providing better access,' Mr Baker added.
Guy McGregor, county council portfolio holder for roads, transport, and planning led the tour of the areas, which are due to be developed by 2015.
Mr McGregor said: 'The government's significant financial backing for this major project is a boost for residents and businesses in Lowestoft and a positive endorsement of Suffolk County Council's work to improve transport services in the county.
'This project is all about making sustainable, low carbon travel a genuinely attractive alternative to the car. I strongly believe the approach we are taking in Lowestoft could and should be a model followed elsewhere in Suffolk.
'I'm looking forward to when our ambitious plans become a reality.'