Highways chiefs snub gridlock meeting
HIGHWAYS chiefs were today accused of snubbing traffic problems in Ipswich after pulling out of a gridlock-busting meeting at the last minute.Suffolk County Council had arranged a seminar for everyone involved in the management of the A14 and A12 around Ipswich in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year's chaos which hit the town centre several times after accidents closed the by-pass around the town.
HIGHWAYS chiefs were today accused of snubbing traffic problems in Ipswich after pulling out of a gridlock-busting meeting at the last minute.
Suffolk County Council had arranged a seminar for everyone involved in the management of the A14 and A12 around Ipswich in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year's chaos which hit the town centre several times after accidents closed the by-pass around the town.
The seminar had been arranged for tomorrow several months ago, in consultation with the Highways Agency.
A county council source told The Evening Star: “This meeting was arranged after we had talked to the Agency, and had gone out of our way to arrange it at a time convenient to them.
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“That was why there was such a long lead-in time. But now days before the seminar is due to take place they've told us they won't be coming.
“They manage the road and they are a vital element of this seminar. It's not good enough that they are only sending an agent.”
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The seminar will be attended by councillors and officers from the county council, district and borough councils and the police.
A spokeswoman for the county council said the Highways Agency would be represented by the officials from consulting engineers, WS Atkins who manage the A14 and A12 in Suffolk on a day-to-day basis from clearing roads an accident to gritting in cold weather.
Ipswich council transport spokeswoman Inga Lockington, who is also a Lib Dem member of the county council, said: “What we see is that if there is an accident on the A14 all the traffic is channelled through the town and it quickly grinds to a halt.
“Much of this problem is caused by the time it takes to clear up after an accident. We need to see if the police and Highways Agency can speed up their work to clear the road.
“It would be very disappointing if the Highways Agency don't turn up - they need to hear our point of view and tell us what they can do to prevent these problems.
Guy McGregor, who is Suffolk's cabinet member for roads and transport said: “I understand that the Highways' Agency cannot attend the meeting. I am sure there are many pressures on the civil service.
“We look forward to working with Atkins to try to resolve problems on the trunk roads in the county.”
nThe Highways Agency has also irritated county councillors for arranging an exhibition about the new A14 Haughley Bends by-pass on the same day as next week's full council meeting.
The meeting will be held at the Ron Crascall Pavilion in Haughley from noon until 8pm on Thursday, January 19. The full council meeting is on the same day from 2pm onwards.