Ipswich: Concern grows over delays to travel improvements

Queen Street, Ipswich

Queen Street, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

When will Travel Ipswich ever be finished?

That’s the question on the lips of businesses, shoppers and the borough council as the town prepares for its third Christmas under the shadow of the road gangs.

However Suffolk County Council has dismissed reports that the money for the £21 million project is running out – saying that any shortfall could be covered by council reserves.

The Travel Ipswich project which aims to make it easier to travel around the town centre and to make it more attractive for pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport began in June 2012 and was due to be completed by June this year.

However major elements of the work, including rebuilding Queen Street and Princes Street, have not yet been started – and there is still no firm timetable for the work to start.

The Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) system for buses should have become operational when the new Old Cattle Market and Tower Ramparts bus stations were completed last autumn.

The first screens are now due to go live at the Old Cattle Market next week – and there is still no firm date for the rest of the network to be completed.

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Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere is frustrated about the delays to the county council-led project – and said his authority was insisting that there should be no impact on the town centre during the run-up to Christmas.

He said: “There are aspects of the programme that are a concern. RTPI should be a real benefit for passengers but we still have not got it more than a year after it should have been introduced.”

The work at Queen Street and Princes Street had to be completed before the borough could consider redeveloping the Cornhill – and there had been agreement about pedestrianising the area.

“We just need to see work get underway as soon as possible in the new year,” Mr Ellesmere added.

His views were supported by Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement who said businesses in the heart of the town just wanted certainty.

He said: “Most of our members understand that roadworks need to happen and think that things may be better when they are completed – but they cause disruption and they want to know with certainty when they will start, when they will finish, and how things will be eased during the work.”

So far as he was concerned, he wanted to see work on Queen Street and Princes Street start as soon as the January sales were over so they were completed by the spring.