Huge bill for small road

COUNTY chiefs are to splash out £500,000 buying and resurfacing a small stretch of private road, The Evening Star can reveal today.Suffolk County Council is prepared to spend a total of £470,000 to buy Grange Lane in Kesgrave, a private road just 170 metres long, so they can fix a number of potholes.

COUNTY chiefs are to splash out £500,000 buying and resurfacing a small stretch of private road, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Suffolk County Council is prepared to spend a total of £470,000 to buy Grange Lane in Kesgrave, a private road just 170 metres long, so they can fix a number of potholes.

That works out at more than £2,700 a metre.

The scheme, given the green-light by the Tory administration, has been criticised by Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the Labour group who said the cash could be better spent.


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He said: “We have been expressing concern for some time that the county is spending more than most other authorities and yet has had poor performance in this area.

“They are now spending nearly £500,000 on a small road in Kesgrave which doesn't seem value for money from our point of view.

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“Maybe, in terms of doing the work, it makes sense for the local residents but there are a lot of unmade roads in various parts of the county, including Ipswich, which the county is not buying to resurface.

“I am not sure why this is a higher priority than anywhere else.”

As part of its plans for the road the council wants to construct a new road surface and cycle paths together with footpaths and a turning area suitable for large dust carts.

Lighting and drainage facilities together with some new landscaping will also be incorporated in the scheme.

County chiefs want to carry out the work as the route is popular with school children and cyclists and they fear they could be liable if there are any accidents on the stretch.

Guy McGregor, responsible for roads and transport, said there is no other option than to carry out a forced purchase of the land to complete the work.

“This particular issue of Grange Lane has been an issue for some time,” he said.

“We are keen to support cycling, particularly to Kesgrave High School. The majority of people welcome the improvement and having a route for cyclists. We are picking up something the previous administration failed to do.

“They voted to go ahead with compulsory purchase but failed to go through with it when they were in power.”

Mr McGregor said he will “do his best” to ensure costs for the project remain as small as possible, saying the £470,000 cost is an estimate.

He added that road standards across the county have improved since the Tories took over the administration.

Is the scheme a wise use of cash? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A COUNCIL report on the issue states that Grange Lane is a privately owned, unsurfaced, no through road which has become a “natural walking and cycling route” for a “significant number” of local people.

The route is said to be used extensively by children travelling to school (both by younger pupils going to local primary schools and older pupils to Kesgrave High School).

It is also used by adults walking and cycling to work.

Due to the high volume of users and lack of maintenance by the private owners, Grange Lane has become heavily potholed and is considered “unsafe for use”.

The council has entered formal negotiations with residents adjacent to the road to acquire their land, but it is expected that a few residents will decline to enter into any agreement with the council, making compulsory purchase necessary.

A small portion of the land is owned by Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Purchase notices are expected to be served by June.

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