Minister snubs media in visit to Lowestoft's Gull Wing crossing

Baroness Vere visits Gull Wing

Neil Rogers project director for Farrans Construction, roads minister Baroness Vere, and Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council. - Credit: Joshua Freemantle/Sunrise Studios

A government minister visited Lowestoft to see the progress of the town's long-awaited third crossing, but media were snubbed from the guest list.

Baroness Vere, parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport and minister for roads, buses and places, visited the Gull Wing bridge's construction site on Friday, March 25.

The third crossing over Lake Lothing was finally granted approval by transport secretary Grant Shapps in April 2020 after months of delays, with construction beginning later that year.

The proposed design for the Lake Lothing Third Crossing, pictured with the bridge open.

Designs for the Gull Wing bridge in Lowestoft. - Credit: WSP.

Despite backing a number of campaigns over the years to get the crossing built, no one from this newspaper was invited to attend Friday's visit to ask questions.

A spokesperson for the DfT said: "No media was informed as this was a private visit to check on the progress of both projects."

Reece Hanson, community editor for the EDP and Lowestoft Journal, said: "Calls for a third crossing in Lowestoft were made before even my grandparents were born, and seven years ago ex-Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to have it built by 2020.

"Even when plans finally moved forward, we had more delays with the government blaming Brexit and Covid, and a general election they called early, as excuses.

Most Read

"One of the key roles of journalists, especially in times like these, is to hold people in authority to account. We can't do that if they hide from us.

"To snub us then want us to publish a photo op is galling and the people of Lowestoft deserve better."

Baroness Vere visits Gull Wing

Neil Rogers, left, project director for Farrans Construction, Waveney MP Peter Aldous, roads minister Baroness Vere, Councillor Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, and Simon Brotherton, Gull Wing Bridge project director for Suffolk County Council. - Credit: Joshua Freemantle/Sunrise Studios

A press release issued by Suffolk County Council, who confirmed the DfT requested no media attend the event, said the Baroness was given an introduction to the site, joined by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks, East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for transport Norman Brooks, and Sonia Barker of Lowestoft Town Council.

Following her brief appearance in Lowestoft, the Baroness also visited Great Yarmouth to see the work on the new Third River Crossing, also without any press invited.

Plans for a Third Crossing over Lake Lothing were first mooted more than 100 years ago at the end of World War I.

In 2007, this newspaper joined more than 10,000 signatures backing a petition organised by Waveney's Labour MP at the time Bob Blizzard to build the long-awaited bridge.