Meeting to discuss lorry park

A TOP level meeting is to be set up to try to solve the problems and objections surrounding the use of a lorry park on the A14 near Ipswich.Suffolk Coastal council has agreed to host the meeting between Highways Agency officials and truckstop owner Karl Rout in a bid to iron out their differences and plan the future for the vital facility for lorry drivers.

A TOP level meeting is to be set up to try to solve the problems and objections surrounding the use of a lorry park on the A14 near Ipswich.

Suffolk Coastal council has agreed to host the meeting between Highways Agency officials and truckstop owner Karl Rout in a bid to iron out their differences and plan the future for the vital facility for lorry drivers.

Planners believe the lorry park will become even more important in the years ahead as Felixstowe port expands, but police and Highways Agency officials would rather park trucks on the roads when the port is closed than use the truckstop at Nacton.

Now the agency has also objected to plans to allow hauliers to use it for secure overnight parking for vehicles.

Deputy council leader Andy Smith said the agency's attitude to the site was “utterly bizarre, illogical, fundamentally unacceptable and not in the public interest”.

He said: “There is a huge scarcity across the country and certainly in our locality of the type of excellent facilities the Orwell Crossing provides. The A14 is here to facilitate commerce and traffic and we need these sort of places for lorries to stop.”

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At present the lorry park has around 125 trucks spaces, plus a restaurant providing a place for food and rest for car and lorry drivers.

Mr Rout, of AE Rout and Sons, also wants to use part of the site as an operating centre for licensed haulage companies - essentially providing secure compounds for their vehicles to stay overnight.

Seven licences have been agreed for 58 vehicles and 40 trailers but there is a dispute over whether planning consent is also needed.

Mr Rout said: “If we are to remain a viable business we must continue to develop and provide what our customers need. We believe the operating centres do not need planning permission and there is no unauthorised use of the lorry park - the lorries at the operating centre will only be there at weekends and not during the week when they will be on the road.”

Suffolk Coastal was directed by the Highways Agency to turn down a plan for a portable building to provide an office for the operating centre. Instead, councillors decided to defer the matter and arrange a meeting with the agency.

Planning officer Paul Coffey said the council was very supportive of the lorry park as a rest area and for truckers to stop overnight.

However, there was concern setting up operating centres for specific firms would erode the site as a truckstop and instead turn it into a haulage yard.

No-one was available to comment from the Highways Agency.

What do you think of the Orwell Crossing? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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