Traffic scheme could get green light

IPSWICH: Hopes were rising today that a �25 million scheme to improve traffic in the town centre could finally get the go ahead just before the general election.

But as officials waited for an answer from the government’s Department for Transport, there were fears that the delay could ultimately prove fatal to the scheme.

Suffolk County Council submitted the application for funding for the innovative scheme in May last year, hoping for a positive response by Christmas.

“Ipswich fit for the 21st century” is a bold vision which includes the rebuilding of the town’s two bus stations, the construction of new pavements and cycle routes across the town centre, and a new traffic management scheme to control vehicles travelling around the town.

The total cost of the scheme is estimated at �25 million – with 90 per cent of the cost coming from the government.

The delay in getting an announcement from the government has caused concern at both the county and borough councils.

However Ipswich MP Chris Mole – himself a junior transport minister – said there could still be an announcement before a general election is called.

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He said: “I don’t know whether there will be an announcement – as constituency MP I cannot take part in those departmental discussions – but only yesterday I announced a major investment in Birmingham city centre.

“There is no reason why we may not have an announcement like that before an election is called – but we couldn’t have anything like that announced once the campaign is under way,” he said.

However his Tory challenger Ben Gummer was not impressed: “I hope there is an announcement very soon, but that will have been delayed – possibly for political reasons,” he said.

“What concerns me is that if it is not signed off during the current financial year which ends at the start of April then it could be vulnerable to spending cuts which either party could introduce after the election.”

Does Ipswich need a new �25 million transport scheme? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail