Lorries may be back on town's roads

NIGHT-time lorry bans near Ipswich docks could be scrapped to improve access to Suffolk's largest bulk cargo port.And Ipswich council wants no new roads to be built between the growing port and the A14.

NIGHT-time lorry bans near Ipswich docks could be scrapped to improve access to Suffolk's largest bulk cargo port.

And Ipswich council wants no new roads to be built between the growing port and the A14.

They are the main proposals in the council's latest Local Plan draft – a draft that's so controversial it's been pulled before it was ever discussed by senior councillors.

The Evening Star understands that the new planning blueprint provoked a furious row among councillors and council officials – highlighting tensions that already existed between planning and engineering officials.

The new Local Plan had been due to be discussed by Ipswich council's executive committee tomorrow . The papers were sent out at the end of last week.

However council leader Peter Gardiner and many officials at Civic Centre had not seen the paper in advance, and within hours of its distribution, discussions were deferred until a later meeting.

Most Read

The most controversial proposals concern routes to the port. New roads had been proposed for both the east and west banks of the River Orwell. Both had attracted opposition, and now both have been dropped by the plan.

However the council is raising the possibility that the night-time lorry bans on Nacton Road, Landseer Road, and Wherstead Road could be relaxed to make life easier for the port.

"There are a number of ways in which access to the port from the A14 could be improved for residents and HGVs by utilising the existing infrastructure," the report says.

"These could include reconstructing the carriageways of Landseer, Nacton, and Wherstead Roads to reduce the noise nuisance of HGVs passing in front of people's homes.

"A subsequent review of night-time lorry bans could then be appropriate, extending the options for improving road access to the port."

The report was drawn up by strategic planning officials at Civic Centre and had been due to be presented to tomorrow's executive committee by controversial councillor Phil Smart.

He said today that the report would still be presented to executive later this year, and did not expect it to be changed much.

However it was not certain that the night-time lorry bans would be relaxed. "It says they will be reviewed, not that they will be removed," he said.

Mr Gardiner played down the incident. He said the topic was dropped due to problems with "internal consultation" and said it had merely been deferred for a later date.

Commenting on the likely opposition to the idea, Mr Gardiner said: "At the end of the day, it will be controversial.

"To think you can come up with a plan that will be acceptable to everybody – it just doesn't happen."

Mr Gardiner said any changes could be two years away and none would be introduced without a public planning inquiry.

However his assurances did nothing to calm local residents.

"We are appalled by this," said Bob Blastock of the Wherstead Road Residents' Association.

"Residents of Nacton Road, Landseer Road, and Wherstead Road fought for these night-time bans many years ago, and they were introduced in 1985.

"Now the council wants to take us back to those days, it's horrendous.

"But it's what we've come to expect from this council, they aren't interested in what we have to say – we'll have to go over their heads, to the county council or the public inquiry."

Opposition politicians were unimpressed by the proposals – and the split they opened up at Civic Centre.

Tory leader Stephen Barker was furious about the decision to drop the Local Plan from the executive meeting. He criticised what he said was poor internal communication plaguing the council.

He said: "As a member of the executive and as leader of the opposition, I had to find out from a member of the public that it had been withdrawn.

"To be not told that they had already deferred such a document is disgraceful."