BT labelled disgrace as busy road closed for 16th time since November

Roadworks at the junction of Handford Road and Portman Road in Ipswich.

Roadworks at the junction of Handford Road and Portman Road in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich leaders have voiced their outrage as a major Ipswich road is being dug up for the sixteenth time in ONE year – bringing chaos to parts of the town centre.

Engineers from BT are undertaking the work at the busy Handford Road as an underground cable has “become faulty due to water damage” – it started on Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to take a week.

Today, bosses from the company will be at a meeting at the county council to discuss broadband – but they can expect a dressing down from deputy leader Christopher Hudson.

Mr Hudson, who is also cabinet member for Ipswich, said: “I am shocked and appalled to hear this. There is no excuse for so many problems. They need to get things sorted out once and for all.”

He is not the only civic leader to be on the warpath.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer reacted furiously to the news, adding: “It is a disgraceful waste of everyone’s time and we really do need a full explanation about why this continues to happen.

“I shall be taking this up with very senior officials at BT to make it clear this is a totally unacceptable way for them to behave.”

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The four-way temporary lights have caused serious road congestion in both directions along Handford Road.

The traffic has also spilled along Civic Drive, in both directions, and into Portman Road.

Problems were also compounded because it was the first day of the school term for many children yesterday – which always puts more cars on to the roads.

All work on the county council’s roads – like Handford Road in Ipswich – has to be logged with highways’ authority at Endeavour House, but officials have no power to prevent statutory bodies like BT from accessing their property running under the road.

However, there is major concern at the county council about the repeated BT work at Handford Road. Officials and councillors are hugely frustrated about the regular roadworks.

A spokesman for BT said: “Openreach are replacing a large underground cable which has become faulty due to water damage. Our engineers are working around the clock to replace the cable and traffic light management is required for work to be carried out safely.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused, our engineers are working as fast as they can to finish the work as soon as possible.”