Frustrations with the county council are forcing groups in Bury St Edmunds to join forces to get things done.
Improvements have been earmarked for one area of the town previously labelled ‘ugly’ and ‘dangerous’, while steps are also being taken to create a long-awaited parking layby for Moreton Hall.
St Andrew’s Street South has long been the subject of criticism. The result of a failed ‘link’ between the arc and the rest of the town, it also uses a controversial ‘shared space’ scheme.
Now Bury St Edmunds Town Council has agreed to fund £10,000 of an initial £22,000 project to help improve its appearance, to include installation of two metal arches with illumination for Market Thoroughfare and three mature trees in steel planters.
Andrew Speed, council chairman, said: “It’s increasingly the town council, in conjunction with partner groups like Ourburystedmunds, pressing ahead with improvements to the town which the county council isn’t delivering – it’s a highways issue in many ways.”
But Cllr Paul Hopfensperger says it is another case of ‘throwing good money after bad on St Andrew’s Street South without any clear plan or direction’.
He said: “The more attempts made to keep bodging this street, quite honestly is getting beyond a joke.”
“We are where we are,” said Mr Speed. “We can’t create an oil painting out of it but we can certainly cosmetically enhance it and that’s what we’re seeking to do. There’s no point in whinging about the past when we can look to the future.”
Another initiative he wants to ‘push ahead with’ is the layby in Skyliner Way to help ease traffic congestion in the road.
He said he would be ‘on a warpath’ if it was not approved this month after the town and borough councils put forward a proposal requiring no funds from the county council, only its approval.
He said: “These are the beginnings of us being able to take control of things in our local area and implement them – the only barrier is county council planning, not county council funding.
“Both at a town and borough level we’ll continue to push to deliver value for money for the precepts we raise, and we don’t want the county council to be an obstacle to that.”
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said it had delivered ‘significant urban improvements’ in St Andrew’s Street South in 2014 and would review the Skyliner Way situation once the Eastern Relief Road had been completed.