Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Repeated works to fix flood-prone Compiegne Way in Bury St Edmunds branded an ‘expensive sticking plaster’ after costs revealed





Repeated works to solve flooding along a major Bury St Edmunds road have been branded ‘an expensive sticking plaster’ after it was revealed more than £500,000 was spent in one year alone.

Suffolk County Council has carried out a long list of repairs and drainage works to resolve ongoing issues at Compiegne Way, which was closed for nearly four weeks in January due to heavy flooding.

A Freedom of Information request by SuffolkNews has revealed the scale of works along the stretch of the A143 since 2019 – but, despite hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent, the problem persists.

Compiegne Way in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday. Picture: Mark Westley
Compiegne Way in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday. Picture: Mark Westley

Although not all the costs are recorded, the data gives an insight into the number of repairs carried out.

In 2019, the replacement of a filter drain, new signs, posts and crash barrier works as well as pump repairs and replacement cost £547,998.82.

It has prompted calls for a long-term solution as the council investigates the source of the water which caused the most recent flooding and widespread disruption for residents and businesses.

Compiegne Way was shut for nearly four weeks in January. Picture: Mark Westley
Compiegne Way was shut for nearly four weeks in January. Picture: Mark Westley

Labour Cllr Cliff Waterman, who represents the Eastgate ward on West Suffolk Council, said there needed to be a long-term plan for the road as previous efforts were an expensive sticking plaster, with money literally ‘going down the drain’.

“It’s inevitable there will be further flooding and whatever has been done so far doesn’t resolve the issue,” he said. “It’s in a dip, there’s banks either side and it has drains that block.”

Spending a bit more money in the short term could solve the problem properly in the longer term, Cllr Waterman said.

“We’re not talking about a side street, it’s one of the major accesses into Bury,” he said.

Cllr Cliff Waterman said there needed to be a long-term plan. Picture: West Suffolk Council
Cllr Cliff Waterman said there needed to be a long-term plan. Picture: West Suffolk Council

It was symptomatic, he said, of a much wider malaise over a lack of long-term planning from county in terms of highways programmes.

Other Compiegne Way works listed in 2020 include two blocked gullies (no cost given) and drainage cleansing, which cost £31,264.98.

In January 2021 there was a listing for water pump replacement, while in March to May last year works included surface water pump maintenance/replacement, gully repair and replacement parts to the pump system.

In October, November and December last year flooding issues were reported multiple times, with nine items listed.

The major Bury St Edmunds route has repeatedly flooded. Picture: Ross Waldron
The major Bury St Edmunds route has repeatedly flooded. Picture: Ross Waldron

One in November included a pump failure, with an initial engineer assessment, costing £1,110.78.

On December 31 it was logged that the road was flooded and cars were having to use the grass verge.

On January 10, verge deterioration was costed at £2,969.

Independent Cllr Peter Thompson, who represents Eastgate and Moreton Hall on Suffolk County Council, said the figures did not paint the full picture and the true cost of the works would be more.

“We’re throwing good money after bad,” he said.

“It’s viewed as a drainage, pipes and pumps problem. It isn’t – it’s a topography, road surfacing problem.”

Cllr Thompson said the time for excuses was over and the council needed to do the job properly, with more joined-up thinking over drainage, highways and civil engineering.

Conservative Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, who represents some of the communities affected by HGVs using their areas as cut-throughs due to flooding in Compiegne Way, said it was a complex issue because of its location.

She called for a long-term sustainable solution.

She said Suffolk County Council was treating it as a priority, with an investigation into the cause of the flooding which would offer recommendations on how flood risk could be managed in the future.

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger. Picture: Submitted
Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger. Picture: Submitted

Cllr Hopfensperger, who represents Thingoe North on the county council as well as The Fornhams and Great Barton on West Suffolk Council, said: “The way the communities I represent have been affected by HGVs using inappropriate roads is simply not acceptable.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “We will shortly be carrying out a Section 19 investigation into Compiegne Way, which is an independent review outlined in the flood and water management act 2010, following a flood event of this severity.

“This will provide wider context as to why this area is prone to flooding and present some recommendations on how flood risk could be better managed going forward.

“Once this investigation is complete we will have a better idea on a longer-term plan for managing flooding at Compiegne Way.”