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Road chiefs called to account for bridge

PUBLISHED: 13:22 12 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:03 05 July 2010

A COUNCIL chief is refusing to give up on his bid to persuade road chiefs to attend a meeting and explain long delays to work on Lowestoft's crucial bascule bridge.

A COUNCIL chief is refusing to give up on his bid to persuade road chiefs to attend a meeting and explain long delays to work on Lowestoft's crucial bascule bridge.

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee wants Highways Agency officials to face questions from councillors over the controversial project, which has created traffic chaos during several closures.

In June, Mr Bee called for the agency to attend a meeting of Waveney's overview and scrutiny committee, but was told this would not happen because road officials already took part in action planning forums with the council and other agencies.

But Mr Bee said the Highways Agency's response was “not helpful” and pledged to continue to push for it to appear before Suffolk County Council's roads and transport scrutiny committee, which he chairs in his role as a county councillor.

Mr Bee added: “I don't think we should let it drop. If they are not going to come and talk to Waveney District Council, we can take it up at the roads and transport scrutiny committee. We'll get them one way or another.

“We have a very effective roads and transport scrutiny committee and we are forever having external bodies coming in. The Highways Agency has also been to previous meetings. If they are not going to come to Lowestoft then we'll do it in Ipswich.”

The Highways Agency and its contractors have come in for fierce criticism following long delays to the £2.3m repair programme on the bridge, which carries traffic between north and south Lowestoft on the A12.

The project should have finished before Christmas, but mechanical parts were more worn that originally thought, leading to further closures during the run-up to this year's summer season.

Further work was suspended until next month to prevent further delays during the busy holiday season, but businesses have already been left counting the cost and Waveney MP Bob Blizzard persuaded transport minister Tom Harris to intervene and investigate the long-running saga.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency reiterated its earlier statement, saying the correct forum to discuss the project were the action planning meetings, which also included organisations such as the police, fire and ambulance services, rail companies and the Broads Authority, as well as local councils.

The dates for further closures have yet to be announced.


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