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Public debate over Lowestoft's third crossing ends in disagreement

PUBLISHED: 22:06 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 22:06 18 February 2015

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A heated public meeting over Lowestoft's long-awaited third crossing ended in disagreement as political leaders were urged to ditch the recommendation of an official report in favour of a more publicly popular alternative.

Suffolk County Council organised the event at Orbis Energy, in Wilde Street, Lowestoft to discuss a recent report published by engineering consultants WSP outlining three options for a new road crossing over Lake Lothing.

It was designed to give people a chance to discuss the choices “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.

But after a presentation by WSP and speeches by Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee and transport cabinet member Graham Newman, residents quickly criticised the idea, with Mike Kipling describing the consultants’ report as “a disgrace”.

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.”

Dan Samala and Stephanie Briggs, from WSP, highlighted how an alternative central crossing - as originally proposed by businessman Peter Colby - was the one that had received most public support in a consultation.

But they went on to say they would still recommend an eastern option as that has a greater cost-benefit ratio to the town, because it is cheaper to build and would provide more travel benefits.

It was also heard that Associated British Ports, who run the port in Lowestoft, felt that a central location would harm their operations.

Mr Bee added: “Unless we put forward a realistic case, we are going to be sitting in rooms like this for years.”

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