Plea for Lowestoft residents to back third crossing bid after angry public meeting
PUBLISHED: 09:59 20 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:59 20 February 2015
A plea has been made for Lowestoft residents to unite behind a single bid for a new river crossing over Lake Lothing - despite strong disagreement at a heated public meeting about where a new bridge should be built.
As more than 200 residents arrived for a public meeting at Orbis Energy to hear engineering consultants WSP present the findings of their report into the options for a new crossing, Mark Bee - leader of Suffolk County Council, which commissioned the report - warned: “If everyone puts their eggs into the central option basket, it will be rejected by government.
“Don’t be fooled that a central option is the only one. Don’t go for the false option.”
Wednesday’s meeting was organised by the county council to give people a chance to discuss the choices available “fully and openly” after WSP recommended a crossing in an eastern location, next to the existing Bascule bridge, as the most cost-effective and appropriate option.
Yet despite his pleas and WSP saying they would recommend an eastern option, because it has a greater cost-benefit ratio to the town, residents quickly criticised the idea and WSP’s report.
In a furious debate in which the main speakers – which also included Waveney MP Peter Aldous – were frequently shouted down, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney Bob Blizzard said: “It seems to make no sense to put a new crossing next to the Bascule bridge. The two bridges would both have to lift up every time.”
And businessman Peter Colby, who is supporting Mr Blizzard’s election campaign, said the central option “should be made to work, and made to work now” - despite WSP’s report saying it would cost more and have fewer traffic benefits to the town.
Those cost-ratio analysis figures were criticised by many at the meeting, with resident Mike Kippin calling the report “a disgrace”.
But despite their views - and WSP admitting that the central crossing had more public support - Mr Bee said: “The important thing is to build up a case and make it happen.
“What I’m asking you to do is listen to the facts and have an open mind about it. Unless we put forward a realistic case, we are going to be sitting in rooms like this for years.”
It was also heard that Associated British Ports, who run the port in Lowestoft, felt that a central location would harm their operations.
Chairing the meeting, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Mark Pendlington said the main purpose of the meeting was “to make sure you’ve had your say - that’s the main objective, and that you’ve left probably better informed and able to understand the key issues”.
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