Ipswich MP Tom Hunt: I want to see an end to Orwell Bridge closures in 2020
PUBLISHED: 08:10 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:10 03 January 2020
First things first, Happy New Year to everyone in Ipswich! I am hopeful that 2020 can be a year where significant progress is made in tackling issues across the town, making Ipswich an even better place to live.
Fingers crossed that 2020 also involves the reinstatement of the East Anglian derby next season, something that would be triggered by Ipswich's promotion back up to the second tier and the relegation of Norwich from the Premier League. It certainly looks like Norwich will fulfil their part of the bargain, but let's just hope that the Blue Army can get back to winning ways soon; a second season in the third tier would be a bitter pill to swallow.
I have some home games in the diary over the next month but am also keen to travel to some away fixtures to show my support. I am currently eyeing up the away fixture against Sunderland in February with interest. As a Toon Army fan myself, it would give me great pleasure to see ITFC turn them over and get back to winning ways.
There is a lot in my in tray when it comes to issues to sort in 2020.
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I appreciate that many of the key issues in the town will take many years to resolve. However, with hard work over an extended period of time and close partnership working with others I am optimistic that changes can be made. However, I am very much of the view that 2020 needs to be the year where we see the back of closures to the Orwell Bridge. It needs to be the year where proper measures are introduced by Highways England to ensure that during periods of high wind the bridge doesn't need to close to all vehicles. There is no reason why this can't be the case and its absolutely what I will be pushing for.
Well over a year ago, Highways England commissioned a report looking into the issue and what might be done. They said it would take eight months to complete, yet we still wait for the report to be made public. I have been promised that we will finally see it later this month. I will be meeting with officials from Highways England this month to go through the report's findings.
I am not an aerodynamics expert, but I do know that there must be a commonsense solution to ensure that the bridge doesn't need to close to all vehicles at times of high wind. It falls to Highways England to pull their finger out, get a grip of the situation, and come up with a solution that prevents our town from grinding to a halt on multiple occasions throughout the year.
There is not one silver bullet to tackling congestion in the town but resolving this issue is an achievable short-term objective.
However, it's also clear that solving this one issue is only the start and that other steps will need to be taken in both the medium and long term. It will take work to unite everyone in the county around the potential options, but with hard work, I believe that anything is possible. All I can promise is that whatever the issue, my first concern will be to ensure that what happens works for the town and my constituents.
From pushing for a different, fairer funding formula for Suffolk Police to enable us to get more police on the streets to keep us safe, pushing for additional funds to promote our town centre, to supporting our hospital and schools, there is a packed agenda in 2020 and a huge amount to get stuck into.