Drivers in Ipswich need to help reduce congestion now instead of waiting for Northern bypass
PUBLISHED: 10:47 19 January 2017
Suffolk County Council’s publication of possible routes for a northern by-pass for Ipswich does take the project forward – but there is a very long way to go before any new road is built, writes Paul Geater.
Without wishing to go through all the arguments again, it is still very much a question of IF the road is built rather than WHEN.
And if it does come about it will be in 15 years or more. People might not like that but in a democratic world, and with a project that provokes strong feelings on both sides of the argument, that is a fact of life.
In the meantime things need to happen much sooner if traffic congestion in and around Ipswich is to be eased.
The good news is, of course, that work on the Upper Orwell Crossing is going ahead. And that is expected to ease congestion in the town centre much more than the northern by-pass would.
But the real story about congestion in Ipswich is contained in the report’s statistics.
Between 2001 and 2011 the number of people driving to work in Ipswich increased from just over 28,000 to nearly 37,000.
That is a phenomenal increase and goes a long way to explain the increased congestion at peak times.
There is no way that the road network is ever going to expand fast enough to cope with a rise of about 30% every ten years.
We have to look at other ways of getting about – otherwise increasing numbers of people will spend hours sitting in stationary cars just fuming at their lack of progress.
At the same time the figures show that 62% of people in work in Ipswich live within 5km (three miles) of their workplace. Of these, 29% live within 2km (just over a mile).
I’m sorry to sound like a stuck record, but how many of those people don’t need their car at work but still drive in every day?
I know some people think that “the council” or “the government” should automatically provide them with enough asphalt to drive everywhere unimpeded whenever they want – but really we do need to get a reality check.
The human body was designed to be used to walk a reasonable distance and most people are capable of doing that.
When the days get longer I might even get out my bike for my 3km journey to work – it will be quicker than my 25-minute walk.
I realise most people cannot or will not want to take any heed of this. They will still get in their car for the shortest of journeys. They will find all kinds of excuses not to consider alternative ways of travelling even short distances in town.
But please don’t then spend your time whingeing because everyone else is doing the same thing and creating the road congestion that so irritates you.
Ipswich is growing and that is great – but a growing town does require grown-up solutions to the problems it creates. And more roads is never going to be the silver bullet some may want.
Council tax bills need to reflect the real world of 2017
When Suffolk County Council’s Tory group published its election manifesto in 2013, I always felt its pledge to freeze council tax bills for the next four years was a hostage to fortune.
They’ve almost got away with it as it happens – but I sincerely hope that when Colin Noble and Co sit down to work out their platform for the 2017 elections they don’t come up with another stunt like this.
If they do the voters might just see through them – if they bother to read the manifesto at all!
As it is, the government’s decision to allow councils to raise an extra precept to pay for social care has got the county Tories out of jail.
Had it not been for that they would have either had to break their council tax freeze pledge – or allow social care spending to be even more perilous than it has become.
Because the pledge has forced the Tories at Endeavour House to fail to recognise the political facts of life understood by Tory administrations in Suffolk’s other councils who have all put up council tax bills over recent years.
Quite how Forest Heath councillor Mr Noble, Mid Suffolk councillor (and county deputy leader) Jane Storey and for that matter Waveney councillor (and former leader) Mark Bee square their county freeze with their district increase I don’t know.
I just hope they don’t think that’s a pledge worth repeating.