Transport is latest issue in unitary row

TRANSPORT today became the latest issue which extended the divide between the parties arguing whether Ipswich should be allowed to seize the opportunity of unitary status.

TRANSPORT today became the latest issue which extended the divide between the parties arguing whether Ipswich should be allowed to seize the opportunity of unitary status.

Suffolk County Council criticised the plans, insisting that Ipswich's transport system relied on it being run by the county authority, but Ipswich Borough Council wasted no time in hitting back.

Paul West, the borough's transport portfolio-holder, said: “A unitary Ipswich council, with its councillors living or working in Ipswich, would be able give more focus to our transport problems.

“This is clear from what happens in other unitary areas. It would be much better to work with the county council on transport rather than having the county council run it for us.

“I am sure that Endeavour House (the county council's headquarters) believes the county council should run Suffolk's transport affairs rather than the region. We feel the same need for a more local focus about Ipswich.”

But Guy McGregor, the roads and transport portfolio holder for the county council, said the investment the county council had put into transport in Ipswich over recent years could only have been achieved with county-wide approach.

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He said an example of this was that Suffolk County Council's park and ride sites were helping to reduce congestion in Ipswich by offering free shuttle buses to the Suffolk Show yesterday and today.

Other county-based transport improvements which he said benefited people who live and work in Ipswich included the “20's Plenty!” road safety scheme, which aims to create a safer environment for parents and children outside schools, and also the bus lanes and priority junctions for Park and Ride and other bus services using Norwich Road.

He also used the example of the 'shared space' initiative in Handford Road, Alderman Road and Cullingham Road, which aims to increase safety by allowing pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses to share the road space on a more equal basis.

Mr McGregor said today: “The Ipswich proposal says that Ipswich has special urban issues, which the county council doesn't understand. This is just not the case.

“Our priority transport scheme for the county is focused on Ipswich, because we recognise the importance of addressing travel issues in this expanding town. But we also recognise that what happens in Ipswich affects a much wider area.”

What do you think of Ipswich's unitary bid? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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