Traffic claims have not been ‘wildly exaggerated’ in town

Heavy rush hour traffic in Star Lane, Ipswich. Photograph Simon Parker

Heavy rush hour traffic in Star Lane, Ipswich. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

I have a high regard for the county’s transport spokesman Graham Newman. He has a real interest in the subject and he seems to have a genuine desire to make it easier to get about the county.

But I’m afraid he seems to have a blind spot about the effect that the Travel Ipswich programme is having on the town – and the lamentable way it has been implemented by his authority.

Earlier this week he dismissed concerns about delays caused by the work as “wildly exaggerated” and claimed that the contractors had lost four months because of trying to avoid Christmas periods.

He described as “complete nonsense” claims that the town was “permanently gridlocked”.

Well, Graham, let’s go through these claims.

I don’t accept that contractors have lost “four months” by not working over two Christmases – that’s total poppycock!

There was no “Christmas amnesty” with work stopping in 2012 apart from the week between December 22 and the New Year when work was halted on the rebuilding of the Civic Drive junction.

Most Read

In the summer of 2013 the problems with rebuilding the bus stations meant work over-lapped, giving the perception that the town centre was closed for business. The two-month roadworks pause last winter was vital to bring shoppers back over the Christmas period.

This year’s “Christmas amnesty” should never be happening because the work on Travel Ipswich should have been finished seven months ago – by Easter this year. Even if you factor in last year’s two months off, it should have been completed by June.

Instead dithering at Endeavour House over exact plans (they’ve only just decided what to do in Queen Street) and failures in project management have combined to ensure the work is likely to go on until at least the middle of next year.

If we’re lucky it will be complete by June 2015 – 14 months late – but no-one at Endeavour House is confident enough to commit themselves to that at the moment.

No-one, as far as I am aware, is claiming there is “permanent gridlock” in Ipswich.

But if Mr Newman wants to see what the roadworks have done to the town centre he should spend three hours monitoring traffic in the Bishop’s Hill/Grimwade Street area between 7am and 10am or four hours sitting next to the Waterfront road network between 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

They’ve failed to get the traffic lights to talk to each other, but installed new lights in a move which looks as if they’ve picked them up as a job lot from Lights ‘r’ Us!

Meanwhile, I’m increasingly hearing from people who say they’d rather shop in Bury or Colchester – or even just make use of the new retail centres at Ransomes and Martlesham Heath on the edge of Ipswich.