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Treated with 'contempt' over bridge

PUBLISHED: 14:36 25 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:53 05 July 2010

Louisa Kennard

TRAFFIC chiefs have been accused of treating Lowestoft with contempt, after failing to turn up to a major public meeting about the overrunning Bascule Bridge works.

TRAFFIC chiefs have been accused of treating Lowestoft with contempt, after failing to turn up to a major public meeting about the overrunning Bascule Bridge works.

A joint meeting of Suffolk County and Waveney District Council's scrutiny committee was held on Tuesday morning to investigate the management of the maintenance project by the Highways Agency.

The government body declined to attend the meeting at the Orbis Energy Centre, which was met with rage by councillors and members of the public.

Waveney councillor Peter Collecott said: “How can we as a scrutiny committee effectively scrutinise this very complex item if the main player is not present to answer questions. In other words they are ducking out of their responsibility.”

Andrew Guttridge, strategic commissioner for sustainable transport at the county council, spoke of how the Highway's initial consultation and liaison was thorough, but admitted it became clear the work wasn't going to go as planned.

“To some extent we still haven't got a full picture of exactly what did go wrong,” he said.

Speaking from the public gallery, Rose Hudson from the Kirkley Business Association said the loss of trade in the town had run into the millions.

She said: “I'm very annoyed indeed that they bridge works protracted for such a time. They seem to be treating Lowestoft with apparent contempt.”

The panel agreed unanimously agreed to draft a strongly worded letter to the Highways Agency after their failure to attend, as well as write to the secretary of state for transport asking for the agency's policy to be amended so they are obliged to turn up to scrutiny meetings.

They also agreed to look into the improvement of the Highways Agency's code of practice and the requirement of other organisations, such as Network Rail, to co-ordinate their works with that of the Highways Agency and Suffolk County Council.

So far, the work on the Bascule Bridge is still ongoing, despite the original completion date of last Christmas.

For the full report of the meeting, see Friday's Journal.

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