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Opposition says county council trying to 'deceive' public over Sudbury bypass

Suffolk county councillor and Green Party member Robert Lindsay.
Suffolk county councillor and Green Party member Robert Lindsay.

An opposition councillor has suggested Suffolk County Council could be trying to mislead residents over the solutions to traffic issues in Sudbury, following the release of emails under the Freedom of Information Act.

Campaigners against proposals to deliver a relief road for Sudbury claim emails released after an FoI request, seen by the Free Press, show the council is not seriously considering alternative options to alleviate congestion in the town, despite previous assurances.

As part of the process of developing an outline business case for a bypass, the council said it would set up a forum of elected officials to review all possible options for easing traffic in the town.

But in an email sent by Dave Watson, the council’s transport strategy manager, to South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, a strong supporter of the bypass, Mr Watson wrote: “We know there are really no options other than a new road – for example town centre traffic management – that would deal properly with the problems.

“The purpose of the early option assessment is to knock out most of the possible options and focus on a few – in this case, probably a southern or a western route that can be looked at in more detail.”

In response, Green Party councillor Robert Lindsay, a vocal opponent of the relief road, told the Free Press the emails appeared to show the council engaging in an attempt to deceive the public.

“The council promised a public forum of elected representatives to look at all solutions to Sudbury’s traffic, which could include measures to reduce and calm traffic in the town,” he said.

“But in private correspondence, we now see a council official telling James Cartlidge that this solution – the most cost-effective and beneficial for taxpayers and residents of Sudbury – will be ‘knocked out’ in the early stages, leaving only the road building options.

“I have written to our new chief executive, Nicola Beach, asking her to investigate these emails and issue a statement clarifying whether they reflect Suffolk County Council policy.”

Supporters of the proposed relief road have argued it would be the most viable option for mitigating congestion, pollution and property damage, particularly from HGV traffic.