Row over Needham lorry ban

A COMPANY says proposals to change the vehicle weight restriction zone in Needham Market will add 23,500 miles a year to their work trips and could force them to close there concrete operation.

A COMPANY says proposals to change the vehicle weight restriction zone in Needham Market will add 23,500 miles a year to their work trips and could force them to close there concrete operation.

Hanson Aggregates has objected to Suffolk County Council's proposal to change the 7.5 tonne restriction in the town because it fears the new measures will mean the closure of its ready-mixed concrete plant.

With 75 per cent of its customers to the west of the town, the firm currently benefits from an exemption to travel through the High Street, but if changes are approved their vehicles will be compelled to travel a further eight miles east along the B1113 to the Claydon interchange before turning west.

The company has told the council there could be a devastating impact on the business which has operated on the Ipswich Road site for almost 20 years.

Mark Miller, Hanson's regional director, said: “Concrete has a critical working life of two hours. This proposal would cost us a further 30 minutes in travelling time and significantly reduce our market, putting the viability of the plant at risk.

“These measures will bring no environmental benefit. Even the council's own survey revealed that there had been no increase in commercial vehicle traffic in the town for ten years.

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The proposal the firm objects to is to reduce the extent of the restriction at the southern end so that it starts at the B1113/Lion lane/Grinstead Hill junction. This would place the firm outside the current weight zone, losing its exemption to go through the High Street, and forcing its lorries into longer journeys and extra fuel expense.

But a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said that the effectiveness of the current 7.5 tonnes weight restriction on the B1113 between Stowmarket and Claydon has been reviewed amid concerns about the quality of life for residents.

She said: “A traffic survey undertaken in 2006 found that the daily volume of heavy goods vehicles in the High Street is high, considering an environmental weight restriction is in place. Suffolk police, Mid Suffolk District Council and a number of other parishes have expressed support for the proposal.”

The county council's Rights of Way Committee will now discuss the issue during its June meeting.