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Public meeting over bascule bridge

PUBLISHED: 12:43 10 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:45 05 July 2010

THE impact of the delayed bascule bridge repairs on the people of Lowestoft is to come under the spotlight at a key public meeting later this month.

Waveney District and Suffolk County councils will join forces to stage the event and are set to hear evidence of how local businesses have been hit by closures of the crucial bridge, which carries traffic over Lake Lothing on the main A12.

THE impact of the delayed bascule bridge repairs on the people of Lowestoft is to come under the spotlight at a key public meeting later this month.

Waveney District and Suffolk County councils will join forces to stage the event and are set to hear evidence of how local businesses have been hit by closures of the crucial bridge, which carries traffic over Lake Lothing on the main A12.

Ten remaining overnight closures of the bridge are set to start from tomorrow evening - a year after the much-criticised Highways Agency project was due to finish.

The November 25 meeting at Lowestoft's Orbis Energy centre has been called to give councillors the chance to investigate the planning and managing of roadworks in Suffolk, with a specific review of the £2.3m bascule bridge repair scheme.

The joint review has been organised by the county council's road and transport scrutiny committee and Waveney's overview and scrutiny committee

Malcolm Cherry, who chairs the Waveney committee, said: “It is to find out why things have gone wrong and to highlight a way forward. I don't want to see the work continuing into next year. We need people, who because of the roadworks and disruption are going out of town, to come back into Lowestoft. We need to learn from these mistakes,” added Mr Cherry, who is also leader of Waveney's opposition Labour group.

The county council's transport scrutiny committee is chaired by Mark Bee, who is also leader of Conservative-controlled Waveney District Council.

Businesses have been urged by the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce to supply details of how the bridge project has impacted on them, while the meeting will also look at ways for agencies to better co-ordinate roadworks to minimise disruption.

Initial work on the bridge involved a series of daytime closures, but Highways Agency contractors discovered some of the structure's parts were more worn than originally thought, leading to further shutdowns.

The agency hopes the next 10 overnight closures between tomorrow and early December will bring the project to an end and provide some much-needed relief to beleaguered motorists and traders.

All the closures will take place between 8pm and 6am and are scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday; the remaining closures will happen on November 18, 19 and 20, and December 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard persuaded the Highways Agency to fund a study into the best site for a third bridge for Lowestoft by way of compensation for the town.

He said of the meeting: “I think it is important that companies indicate what their losses will be. We will be able to identify the impact on the local economy of putting up with this wretched bridge and strengthen the case for a third crossing.”

The Highways Agency declined to comment about the meeting.

The joint council meeting will start at 10.30am in the conference hall of the Orbis building, in Wilde Street. There is limited parking at the site, but pay and display car parks are available nearby.

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