'Don't cage us in'

DON'T cage us like animals!That was the impassioned plea from an Ipswich community today after hearing of proposals to install a high fence to keep youngsters away from the A14.

Tom Potter

DON'T cage us like animals!

That was the impassioned plea from an Ipswich community today after hearing of proposals to install a high fence to keep youngsters away from the A14.

During the past 18 months police have dealt with a number of incidents of cars using the road being hit by missiles, including bricks, in the Whitehouse area, near the West Meadows travellers' site.

Police have spent much time and effort addressing the problem and in January three people, a 13-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 22-year-old were arrested - although no charges were brought.

Following talks with police chiefs, Suffolk County Council, which owns the land, is now applying to build a 120-metre long, three-metre high steel mesh fence that will link up with dense vegetation and block easy access to the verge of the A14 dual carriageway.

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A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “The issue of security on that stretch of road was highlighted by police who said something needed to be done.

“We put in a planning application to the borough council and we have been told there are no objectors and we have been given the go-ahead although this is not yet formal.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “This is part of ongoing council work to improve the site and to upgrade safety and security for residents along the boundary.”

But the reaction from the population of West Meadows has been less than warm.

Maria Smith, 22, has lived on the site for the last 13 years. She said: “They want to put us in a cage like animals.

“It doesn't surprise me that this comes without any warning at all. We aren't told anything until it's already being carried out.”

Charlene Mower, 26, has been a resident of West Meadows for her entire life.

The mother-of-three said: “It's been at least a year since I heard of anything being thrown onto the road. It's no shock they want to cage us in but there's nothing we can do to stop them.

“If they want to put up a fence, they will. We could object but we won't be listened to.”

Work on the fence is expected to get under way next month after the official go-ahead has been given by Ipswich Borough Council.

- Are you concerned about safety on the A14? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A14 incidents:

-March/April 2007 - Between March 17 and April 14 there were nine incidents where objects were dropped, thrown or fired on to the road prompting police to warn of a “potentially catastrophic incident”.

-Saturday April 14, 2007 - two people were left shaken when the Ford Focus they were travelling in was hit by a brick. The windscreen smashed and the driver lost control of the vehicle, veering off the road and smashing into an embankment and trees.

A second incident happened at 11pm the same day with the driver reporting a brick being thrown sideways at his car as he left the dual carriageway at the Asda turnoff.

-May 3, 2007 Armed police, two dog units and the force's operational support unit, raided the West Meadows travellers' site at 7.30am bringing five suspects in for questioning.

-November 2007 - Police confirm four brick attacks in the space of nine days in early November.

-November 14, 2007 - Brick thrown at a lorry from a bridge over the A14 at the Whitehouse interchange near Ipswich. Further brick attack directed at car being driven by Needham Market man in same area.

-January 2008 - Suffolk police reveal three men arrested in connection with the incidents have had their bail cancelled due to insufficient evidence.