July 23 2014 Latest news:
Emma Brennan, West Suffolk chief reporter
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Almost £100,000 earmarked for traffic improvements in Sudbury has been “frittered away” it was claimed last night - including £65,000 on a speed bump.
A total of £460,000 has been allocated by the county council for road schemes in the town but there are fears from local people that they are not seeing any tangible results.
At a recent Sudbury Steering Group meeting, county highways officers presented the results of a public consultation carried out earlier this year to ascertain how the money could best be spent.
In a report to the group, it emerged that £24,000 has been set aside for feasibility studies, the consultation and related works, and £8,000 for managing the project, while £65,000 has already been paid out for traffic calming measures in King Street.
The ‘raised platform’ road hump was supposed to make it safer for people to cross the road at a busy intersection on the town centre’s one-way system. But it has been widely criticised for being “confusing” to pedestrians and motorists.
Last night, the county council defended how the money is being used, while members of the steering group commended highways chiefs for consulting the town.
But businessman David Holland, whose shop Curtain Craft is next to the road hump, believes the money has been “frittered” with no tangible results.
He said: “From the head of highways’ report at the meeting, it seems that the much talked about £460,000 has diminished with around 20% of it having already been frittered and we have nothing to show for it except a 20 tonne heap of tarmac.
“I find it amazing that even with the money spent on the consultation around Sudbury, no proposal has come forward that would stand close scrutiny.
“Nothing of consequence has happened but an awful lot of public money has been spent.”
County and district councillor John Sayers, who also attended the meeting, said the hump was part of an earlier plan to develop a shared space in the town centre, which was later abandoned. But he added: “I haven’t met anyone yet who has said that the hump is good value for money.
“It is a very expensive road hump and I don’t think it serves any useful purpose whatsoever.”
Simon Barrett, vice chairman of the steering group, said he did not think the town had gained much from the traffic humps. But he defended the money spent on consulting the public. He added: “Consultation is quite important because we need to make sure that what we do is right. If you have to spend the money to get it right, then so be it.
“At least the county is actually listening to us and not just saying ‘this is what you are having’. It’s a little frustrating but they are taking note.”
Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport, said the purpose of the consultation was to identify highway issues in Sudbury. He added: “From that, we are working with the steering group so that local representatives can help to prioritise projects to be funded through the local transport plan (LTP).
“The purpose of taking proposals to the steering group is to share with partners the ideas being considered and seek their input.
“This work is ongoing and final proposals will only be formed once public consultation has been carried out.”
The remainder of the £460,000 has to be committed to a project by the end of this financial year.