LAST week’s news that civil engineering company Balfour Beatty is set to take over road maintenance across Suffolk has focused on the fact that it is taking over from the county council.

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However the changes that are coming in April next year will probably be most acutely felt in Ipswich, where the borough has maintained the roads for many years.

The most visible sign of this comes at this time of the year when borough gritters go out to keep the town’s roads clear.

And over the years they’ve done a pretty good job. When it has been difficult getting around the county – like in the winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 – it’s always been reasonably easy to get around the town itself.

When (sorry, I mean if) Balfour Beatty take over the contract, the staff will move over with them and the borough’s Gipping House depot could eventually be sold off.

I have no philosophical problem with a private sector contractor taking over the management of the highways in the county and in Ipswich itself – but I do hope that Balfour Beatty bosses realise that despite occasional irritations with potholes or road gritting, the roads of Suffolk are actually pretty good.

Certainly they’re better than the roads you find in some other parts of the country – and if there is a deterioration over the next few years then the Suffolk motorists will know where the blame lies!

This month’s chilly blast has reminded us how important road maintenance is – the vital lesson that everyone needs to remember is that the crucial issue is not who clears the road but how the roads are cleared!

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