Notes from the meeting
A12 and A14 Public Meeting – Capel St Mary Village Hall
James Cartlidge MP – Chair
Cllr Mary Evans – Cabinet Member for Transport and Deputy Leader, SCC
Cllr John Ward – Leader, Babergh District Council
Simon Amor – Highways England
Peter Ingram – General Manager, Suffolk Highways
Kris Barnard - Chief Inspector, Head of the Roads and Armed Policing Team (RAPT)
Copdock roundabout and junctions on the A12
- Road Investment Strategy (RIS) period. It is nearing the end of RIS1. The Government has carried out 122 schemes across the country, but none have been in Suffolk.
- RIS2 – the allocation for this will be announced by the end of the year. Simon Amor (Highways England) is currently trying to build a case for junctions in Suffolk. The top location is Copdock.
- They have tweaked the traffic lights around Copdock but they are keen to get some major investment. However, it is important to remember there are many locations in the country like this.
- Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Suffolk County Council took a campaign to the House of Commons for A14 junctions. They argued that it is Britain’s premier trading route and will be important post Brexit.
- A question was specifically raised on the East Bergholt junction. Why is there only one road sign for Junction 31? Simon Amor stated that he would come to look at this.
- A14 scheme plans cost £1.4 billion so to upgrade A12 would be a similar level of funding. Level of investment that size will need a lot of planning.
- Road markings on A12 near Copdock – redone a week ago.
- Highways England are going to look at lighting on the Copdock junction.
- On the question of short entry slip roads Highways England stated there is a pot of money for road safety schemes. This is used to target the worse areas. Perceived issue and ‘close calls’ are very difficult to justify funding. Accident statistics must be taken into account.
Effect of housing developments on road infrastructure
- Babergh have targets that they need to deliver on for housing. These are imposed by the government. There is a strategy in the local plan to have bulk of housing in urban fringes such as Sudbury, Hadleigh and core villages.
- Babergh want to provide housing in a sustainable way where the infrastructure can handle it.
- They have an infrastructure delivery plan that ensures that housing will only take place where infrastructure can be improved.
- Babergh admit it is a challenge. As funding becomes increasingly available, they will work with infrastructure partners to make improvements.
- Ultimately, young people are desperate to get on the housing ladder and Babergh have got to provide it.
- With the five year land supply, Babergh can determine where the houses go. However, Babergh have to build a certain number of houses in order to be able to make that decision.
- Assessing the suitability of road infrastructure for additional housing. There are two aspects to this; officers assessment on the effect of housing on infrastructure and providing evidence of data that more housing will lead to problems with infrastructure.
- Cllr Mary Evans state that there are very limited grounds on which Suffolk Highways can object to a planning proposal.
- There is concern that the four villages that connect the A12 have been allocated 46% of housing (up to 1400 homes).
- The cumulative effect of this is that when A12 traffic is bad the traffic goes through Bentley as a link to the A137. Babergh do take into account these cumulative effects and rely on Highways colleagues for modelling.
- Diversions – how do we signage when main roads are closed? When there are roadworks they will plan those diversion routes and Highways England and Suffolk Highways will work together. If there is an area that they really do not want people going through, they will put up a barrier. The difficulty comes when there are road closures due to an accident. People will take their own routes.
- It was raised that the cumulative impact has even been questioned by planning consultants working on traffic analysis for large developers in the Ipswich area. Could the detailed modelling needed to analyse cumulative impact be released into the public? Cllr Mary Evans stated she was sure this could be provided.
Noise pollution for Belstead from A12 and A14
- Highways England states this a legacy of the 1970’s. They are aware of the issue and they can’t say whether funding will be in the five year plan.
- James Cartlidge MP did hold a meeting on this two years ago. The issue is that DEFRA states that Belstead is not classed as ‘noise important area’. James will look into this further.
Bus services being withdrawn
- Concerned about the Bus 94 being withdrawn. The Bus 94 is under contract with Suffolk County Council but also Ipswich Buses. They have no requirement to give Suffolk County Council any figures on what they fund and therefore it is more difficult to know what they are funding.
- Suffolk County Council are looking into ‘taxi buses’ for Tattingstone and Bentley to link to Capel St Mary.
- Have resolved the issue with Suffolk ONE students so now need to look at wider public.
- Concerns about pollution that traffic in Copdock and the A12 corridor are generating. With improvements to the A12, pollution will decrease. John Ward (Leader of Babergh District Council) raised the point that increasingly we will be driving electric vehicles.
- Cycling – could there be a dedicated cycle lane up the old A12? Suffolk Highways agree this is something that could be looked into.
- The priority for Suffolk police is road safety. 39,500 tickets have been issued for speeding. The police would like to make the most of technology. Most speeding will be caught from cameras.
- Strategic Road Network – Police make a conscious effort to prioritise roads and be there when they can.
- Open plea by police to put a dashcam in the car for footage. You can find more about this on Suffolk police website.
- Mobile phone usage is very difficult to catch as need to have clear evidence of that.
- Community speeding. The police believe there are a number of options that are available in terms of tackling community speeding e.g. Placement of community speed vans and community speed watch scheme.
- Difference of opinion on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). Suffolk police believe the use of Speed Indicator Devices is better than ANPR on a benefit to cost ratio. A three month trial in Spexhall showed an increase in compliance of speed. For ANPR, letters are manually processed.
- Cllr Evans hopes that Suffolk will get ANPR. Speeding is the number one issue in the villages she represents. It curtails what you do every day. There may not be accidents but there is a social issue where speeding effects your daily life.
- Motorbike speeding on the A137. Police must prioritise where to put assets. They rely on the community to report to local policing team and this particular questoin will be fed back to the team.
Orwell Bridge - Closures
- High wind closures - this happens when winds are over 60mph. The bridge has only been closed twice in 2019 for wind. Highways England do recognise that this causes mass disruption and so will be looking at keeping the bridge open in higher wind conditions. They may be able to lower the speed level and are looking at a number of options.
- Communication plan for closures – Highways England put communications out at schools and hospitals so they can plan for it. They will consider putting these communications out at surrounding villages.
- Separating high vehicles – at the moment there is no mechanism for separating out high vehicles in high winds. The police do not have resources, and this could be dangerous.
- Highways England have lowered the speed limit to 60 mph and put in speed cameras to prevent accidents. Accidents have gone down due to safety schemes.
- Operation STACK. This cannot be placed on the other side of Ipswich as there is no space for that number of HGVs.
- The bridge is not closed lightly, but the priority is to save lives. The second priority is to open routes as soon as possible.
- There has been a temporary closure of nearby laybys to prevent pedestrian access onto the bridge. This is to stop suicide attempts. There is also a Samaritans message on laybys so that people can have support. There are more closures for suicides than high winds.
- North Ipswich bypass – Suffolk Highways had a consultation on this in September. This will be an enormous piece of work to analyse and views will be considered. If the consultation is positive there will be a detailed assessment.
- It was questioned why the Severn crossing does not close – high sided vehicles are reduced in speed. Highways England state this is because the Severn has better parking and signage. City university is a world lead in computer wind modelling. They treat their analysis of when to close the bridge seriously.