Rubbish row

AN ARGUMENT over who should foot the bill is leading to piles of rubbish mounting up on the A14.Responsibility for collecting litter on the dual carriageway in mid Suffolk is being disputed by the district council and the Highways Agency.

AN ARGUMENT over who should foot the bill is leading to piles of rubbish mounting up on the A14.

Responsibility for collecting litter on the dual carriageway in mid Suffolk is being disputed by the district council and the Highways Agency.

The Highways Agency claim the council has a statutory duty to clear up, but Mid Suffolk district councillors say it is unfair local taxpayers are forking out cash for a route used by national traffic.

The argument was sparked by a safety review which found mid Suffolk's working practices were unsafe given the increasing levels of traffic.

New recommendations say lanes of traffic should be closed or barriers installed while the clean up takes place - leading costs to spiral to between £50,000 and £70,000 a year.

In light of the recommendations the council has recently pulled its cleaning staff off the A14. Lay-bys are now the only parts of the road being cleared.

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Councillor Tim Passmore, chairman of the district council's environment policy panel, said: "We do want to get this problem cleared up. It's looks disgusting and is frankly an embarrassment.

"But it shouldn't be the Suffolk taxpayers footing the bill when it's a road used predominantly by national traffic.

"It's quite ridiculous that the government won't live up to its responsibility."

Mid Suffolk district council is responsible for a far larger stretch of the A14 than any other local authority.

However, Babergh, Suffolk Coastal and St Edmundsbury councils are facing similar problems.

Malcolm Firth, head of environmental services at Babergh district council says the rise in traffic on trunk roads has made the job unsafe and, although it is continuing with its routine work, is looking at different methods with the Highways Agency.

St Edmundsbury also said it was in discussions with the government after the rolling lane closures it had been using were deemed unsafe.

A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said it routinely liaises with the Highways Agency and would be carrying out risk assessment tests shortly.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "Local authorities are responsible for collecting litter and it has never been a matter for us.

"We are, however, currently working with the Ipswich, Babergh and St Edmundsbury councils to try and share traffic management when possible.

"We shall not be collecting rubbish but can inform them when we are out on the roads in view to sharing lane closures and so on - a scheme that has worked well in Essex."

Mid Suffolk councillors must now decide whether to ignore safety advice and send out staff regardless, stop all work except to lay-bys on a permanent basis, or find the cash to pay contractors and specialist staff - by stretching resources elsewhere.

All the authorities agree on one issue - it is drivers throwing rubbish from the vehicles which creates problems in the first place.

opinion - see page 4

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