Newspaper intervention prompts roadworks U-turn

Road works in Franciscan way, ipswich

Road works in Franciscan way, ipswich

Temporary traffic lights which had brought already-congested Ipswich town centre to standstill on Tuesday night were dramatically removed yesterday following intervention from this newspaper.

Contractors working for BT set up the lights in Franciscan Way, causing widespread chaos with rush-hour queues stretching the length of Civic Drive, and beyond, in one direction and adding to the normal congestion around the Waterfront in the other.

To add insult to injury, although the lights had gone up on Tuesday afternoon there was no work on the road itself – the contractors were digging near a box on the other side of the pavement.

The only reason for the road to be closed appeared to be to allow the contractors to park their van – even though the Franciscan Way car park was just a few feet away and nearer their work than the road.

Officials at Suffolk County Council (SCC) were frustrated by the way the work was being handled – even though BT was installing a box for the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.

After we contacted the council to see why the lights had been installed, an inspector was sent to the site and found there was no work going on in the road itself. An SCC spokesman said: “BT have a valid notice to work in this location with traffic lights.

“However they were instructed by our team that they must monitor the lights during busy periods. Our inspector has been to the site and found no work going on; therefore we have asked them to clear the site without delay.”

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At lunchtime yesterday the lights were removed, allowing traffic to use the road as normal. A BT spokesman said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by this work. These works are to provide fibre infrastructure including a new green cabinet for the BDUK contract.

“They have been planned and have all the necessary approvals. The works are due to complete on November 28. We will of course be doing all we can to get this work completed as quickly as possible.”

BT said the traffic lights had been set up to protect pedestrians from the nearby work – but the pavement between the road and the works remained open and people were safely walking past the work.

They also said there should be no work during the morning or evening rush hours, but the lights remained on in Tuesday evening’s rush hour and yesterday morning, causing huge disruption.