Elmswell makes case for relief road to Transport Secretary

Leader of Suffolk County Council Colin Noble with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and county counillor Jane Storey in Elmswell
Leader of Suffolk County Council Colin Noble with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and county counillor Jane Storey in Elmswell

The Transport Secretary has seen first hand how important a relief road is for Elmswell and how crucial it will become in the future.

Chris Grayling’s visit on Friday came at the invitation of Cllr Jane Storey, who represents Elmswell on the county council and who has long-campaigned for a relief road from Ashfield Road to the A14, avoiding the village centre and its railway level crossing.

The pair met residents who voiced their frustrations over current traffic problems and fears for future growth and they toured Elmswell looking at some of the sites where housing developments are planned and where a relief road has been proposed to the north of the village.

Cllr Storey said: “The proximity of all the junctions around that particular level crossing mean it only takes one thing to go wrong and it has such potential to lead to significant chaos in Elmswell.”

She added: “If they’re going to double the size of the village, why shouldn’t those developers, and central government, put some money into a pot to make it (the relief road) happen?”

Cllr Colin Noble, leader of Suffolk County Council, who was also there, said their discussions included the amount of freight on the railway and how much more they want see on it in the future.

He said Felixstowe handled 40 per cent of Britain’s container traffic and any of that moved by rail had to go through Elmswell, with the Port of Felixstowe keen to move even more by rail in future.

“It’s a great thing,” said Cllr Noble. “But, at the same time, there’s a lot of pressure on the village in terms of how often it (the level crossing) is closed.”

He added: “It’s the infrastructure point we were making. We realise it’s expensive but he (Mr Grayling) could clearly see the impact on the small community.”

Simon Wilson, director of HG Wilson Transport, said in the 40 years the business had been in Elmswell he had seen the volume of traffic using the level crossing increase fivefold.

“Forty years ago it wasn’t really an issue but the escalation of traffic has increased over the years and now it’s gone up a gear with the ‘bacon factory’ (formerly Grampian Foods) development for 190 houses.”

“We’re crying out for a village bypass which really needs to happen before any more houses are built,” he added.

Of the minister’s visit, Cllr Storey said she did not expect it to have ‘any immediate effect’ but she had wanted to bring to his attention ‘how a small length of road in a rural area can bring an enormous benefit to thousands of people and local companies’.

She said: “He obviously wasn’t going to open up his cheque book and write us a cheque right there but I think everybody recognises that sometimes you need to plant a little seed and wait for it to germinate, and eventually, hopefully, something will happen.”