999 fears over port closures

FEARS have been voiced that the increasing number of closures of Britain's biggest port could prevent emergency vehicles getting onto the A14 - leading to delays in getting patients to hospital.

FEARS have been voiced that the increasing number of closures of Britain's biggest port could prevent emergency vehicles getting onto the A14 - leading to delays in getting patients to hospital.

Trucks have left the dual carriageway and its slip-roads jammed at times when Felixstowe port has shut because of high winds.

Some residents on Cavendish Park fear this could mean ambulances not able to get off the estate and onto the A14 to Ipswich, though police have reassured families they will be managing the traffic.

Jane Bowden, whose seven-month-old daughter Ruby recently spent two days in hospital, said the situation was very worrying.

She said: “The port seems to be closed more and more and several times we have had the lorries down the slip road to Cavendish Park, completely blocking our route on to the A14.

“There is no lorry park. We have even had them come off the slip road onto the Morrisons roundabout in Grange Farm Avenue, probably looking for some way to escape the congestion.

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“But my worry is what will happen if there is an emergency ambulance which needs to get through all this to take someone to hospital urgently.

“If they have to find another way to get on to the A14 it could add ten minutes to their journey.”

Mrs Bowden, who lives with her husband David, and their daughters Ruby and Lois, four, at Melford Way, Felixstowe, said ambulances might have to resort to going through Walton and the Trimley villages to get out onto the A14 or back through Felixstowe.

She added: “It could be the difference between life and death if there was a delay.”

Police though are confident they could overcome any problems.

Felixstowe sector commander Insp Steve Gallant said when the port was closed and Operation Stack in place there would always be police officers managing the situation.

He said: “If an emergency vehicle wanted access then the police officers who are controlling Operation Stack would facilitate that.

“I don't believe there would be a major problem or delay and we could find a gap in the traffic. The ambulances have direct contact with our control room.”

Once winds reach around 35mph it becomes too dangerous to operate the high-rise quayside cranes and the port has to close. Lorry drivers are told and urged to park up but many still arrive and queue on the A14 to wait for it to re-open.

Chief executive officer Chris Lewis apologised at the community reception for the number of times the port has to close and thanked the public for their patience.

Have the port closures caused you problems? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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