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End of the road for Ipswich northern bypass as cabinet agrees to pursue alternative measures

PUBLISHED: 18:08 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 18:08 25 February 2020

Potential routes for the new Nothern Route around Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Potential routes for the new Nothern Route around Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

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Plans for any further work on an Ipswich northern bypass have officially ceased, with work on a new task force to assess the town’s traffic now getting underway.

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said his administration would not pursue work on a northern bypass. Picture: GREGG BROWNSuffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said his administration would not pursue work on a northern bypass. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk County Council's cabinet on Tuesday afternoon agreed not to pursue a bid for funding - estimated to be around £3million - to reach the next stage of work for a full business case.

READ MORE: Northern bypass work recommended to cease

That stance has been clear for several weeks once East Suffolk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils all confirmed they could not back the scheme following the publishing of the consultation results in January, but formally required cabinet approval to end.

Despite the strong business case the study found, more than two thirds of respondents were against the plan.

Conservative council leader Matthew Hicks said it was important for people on both sides of the debate to have clarity on any future of a northern bypass.

Northern route consultation data. Picture: WSPNorthern route consultation data. Picture: WSP

He said: "We were able to sit back, look at the wider picture and reach a conclusion.

"It's clear we are not looking to find any more money to do a business case.

"For my administration it is now off the agenda. We are not looking to raise any funding for the next stage."

Instead, an independent task force is to be formed which will assess means of improving traffic flow around Ipswich, and likely to feature council members from various authorities, business chiefs, environmental campaigners and other interested parties.

Nick Green, co-founder of the Stop the Northern Bypass campaign welcomed the news. Picture: NEIL DIDSBURYNick Green, co-founder of the Stop the Northern Bypass campaign welcomed the news. Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

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A timeline for that task force has not yet been laid out, but Mr Hicks confirmed he is keen for a chairman to be in place soon.

Among areas it will look at are ways of encouraging people to cycle more or use buses, and any potential improvements to key junctions.

Mr Hicks said the group would not just be a "talking shop" and needed to look at "the big picture".

Liberal Democrat councillor Penny Otton said the council needed to go back to square one. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLiberal Democrat councillor Penny Otton said the council needed to go back to square one. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group leader Penny Otton said: "There is such considerable concern about the proposed route and I think this council has got to go back to square one."

The news has been welcomed by Nick Green, co-founder of the Stop the Northern Bypass campaign.

He said: "It's fantastic for everybody.

"Even for those who thought it would have been good news, all the work we did showed us that it would have been pretty horrendous for everybody.

"I challenge anybody to explain how if you stick 25,000 - at the lowest end of the figures - to 75,000 new cars on the road how that is going to de-congest Ipswich, that's beyond me.

READ MORE: Northern bypass consultation results

"This allows us now to focus on our Start Moving Ipswich campaign. We have got this fantastic 20 people in our research team.

"We really want to get behind what were previously our foes in trying to resolve the problems, and we will be launching the campaign on the 12th March, and hopefully assisting in de-congesting Ipswich and making our transport more environmentally friendly for the future."

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