The key take home from the SOBC for me is that there is a solid economic case for building the northern bypass. It’s been quite clear for some time that the inner route was the only game in town and I’m glad that this has now been formally underlined in this report. Energy and focus now needs to be directed at promoting this option.
The business case ratio for the inner route is above the threshold at which the Government begin to take infrastructure schemes very seriously. In fact it’s far higher than that for the HS2 stretch between London and Birmingham.
I note also that the report anticipates that building the northern bypass would be a boost to air quality in Ipswich. This is timely bearing in mind the data released earlier this week stressing the negative impact that stationary and slow moving traffic has on our health.
“I appreciate this issue is complex and that it has divided opinion in Suffolk. I love the Suffolk countryside and I’m not cavalier when it comes to building on our countryside but there are moments when important decisions have to be made and when coming to a conclusion it’s important to see the bigger picture and to weigh up many different and often competing priorities.
“Ultimately for me, the conclusion that I come to is that the northern bypass needs to be built and there is a reason why the business case is strong. We simply need a solution to the congestion that so often grinds our Town to a standstill. The economic implications of this are vast. The economic potential of Greater Ipswich is capped due to our inadequate road infrastructure. Building the northern bypass would make a major contribution to addressing this.
I acknowledge that not all of my constituents are in favour of the northern bypass and they can rest assured that I am sensitive to their concerns but ultimately this is a major issue that I believe I need to take a clear position on and it needs to be driven by what I believe to be in the best interests of the Town that I represent. I do however believe that the majority of people in the Town want the northern bypass to be built.
I appreciate also how strongly many just outside of Ipswich to the north feel about this issue and how organised and motivated they have been when it has come to campaigning against the northern bypass. It’s no surprise to me that they’ve been so effective in driving up the numbers of people taking part in the consultation. However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the numbers taking part in the consultation overall are rather modest.
Going forward, as it stands, it seems the only way the project can move forward in the short term is if a number of local planning authorities are prepared to accept a number of additional homes. Ultimately this is a decision for them to make but all I would say to them is to think very carefully about the wider economic interests of our county and our region and the needs and the interests of their County Town.
I will continue to campaign for the northern bypass and plan to work closely with Cllr David Ellesmere in making the case to the Government for why the road is necessary. I will be meeting him shortly to discuss a variety of issues and the northern bypass will certainly be in the in tray. My view is that the majority of people in the Town want us to put aside Party politics and work together collaboratively to promote the best interests of Ipswich and this is what I plan to do.
I do question the requirement for so much additional housing to have to be provided. I would encourage the Government to reflect on this as well the significant amount of housing that our areas has already taken on board. The reality is we’ve been an underfunded part of the country when it comes to investment in our transport infrastructure for generations under both Conservative and Labour Governments. We need new infrastructure now to address the growth related pressures we already have.
In the short term we need to get to a position as soon as possible where the Orwell Bridge doesn’t need to be closed during windy periods. Long term, we need the northern bypass.