Business leaders have called for solutions to Orwell Bridge closures to be on the political agenda after the A14 was shut last week. 

Paul Simon, head of public affairs at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said closures have a "direct and negative impact" on the county's businesses.

Part of the A14 and the Orwell Bridge were shut for more than four hours last Wednesday following a police-led incident – resulting in gridlock in Ipswich.

Suffolk police later confirmed a teenager was arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance following the resolution of the incident.

Ipswich Star: There is gridlock in Ipswich every time the Orwell Bridge closes (file photo)There is gridlock in Ipswich every time the Orwell Bridge closes (file photo) (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown)

Police said the decision to close the A14 and Orwell Bridge was "not taken lightly" and considered the impact it would have on the community.

Ahead of the forthcoming general election, Mr Simon has urged politicians both locally and nationally to consider solutions that could alleviate the traffic issues in the Ipswich area whenever the bridge is out of action.

Ipswich Star: Paul Simon, of Suffolk Chamber of CommercePaul Simon, of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce (Image: Charlotte Bond)

He said: "Whatever the reasons for closure, it is clear that when the Orwell Bridge shuts, much of the greater Ipswich network closes down with it.

"Inevitably, this has a direct and negative impact on businesses and individuals and, quite frankly, becomes a visual meme that unfairly defines the county town and the wider county as slow and stuck.

"Ahead of a general election, Suffolk Chamber is looking for a commitment from all relevant parties, including councils, ministers, shadow ministers, sitting MPs, prospective MPs and National Highways to back a proper sub-regional set of solutions.

"This needs to run both over the short-to-medium term to minimise the longevity and impact of incidents similar to that on Wednesday.

"But longer-term planning is also required, not least in preparing plans now for when the current Orwell Bridge comes to the prospective end of its lifespan.

"Even as Suffolk moves towards becoming a decarbonised economy, there will still be a need for a well-run roads network to the north and south of Ipswich."