Road safety fears in Stowmarket after influential committee decides to disband
Concerns have been raised about road safety in the Stowmarket area after an influential committee which championed the issue decided to disband.
The Stowmarket and District Road Safety Committee has ‘reluctantly decided’ to wind up its activities in supporting the town and neighbouring villages with speeding and roads issues.
Stowmarket Town Cllr Keith Scarff, chairman of the committee, said they were ‘having little or no effect’ as police, due to funding cutbacks, were no longer able to attend the committee’s quarterly meetings.
He also cited the ‘constant change’ at Suffolk Highways.
Cllr Scarff said: “It is with a degree of sadness that the committee decided after a long debate at its recent meeting to wind up its activities.
“We have been able to use a three-pronged approach by campaigning with the support of the police, parish councils and residents groups to effect sensible and necessary changes to improve road safety in the area.”
He said that with ‘constant reductions of service by the statutory authorities’, there had been ‘a marked difference over the last couple of years in the way that these bodies engage with the public’ and the committee saw the ‘negative effects of this’.
The committee has been involved in many campaigns including helping to unite the community to successfully fight controversial plans to change the traffic flow direction in Needham Road around Combs Ford.
Roger Willison-Gray, chairman of Cedars Park Residents Association which had two members on the committee, said: “It’s very disappointing and it will have detrimental effect on road safety and potentially cost lives.
“It’s a symptom of the communication issues we’re increasingly having with the police.”
Cllr Scarff said the committee’s work would continue with parishes taking up their own issues.
A spokesman for Suffolk Police said they had to make the ‘best use of resources’ following a review of policing in 2016 to achieve savings required by Government and Stowmarket SNT was no longer able to ‘routinely attend’ the committee.
The spokesman added that they held quarterly public partnership meetings at Stowmarket Police Station with representatives including councillors, community and residents organisations.
A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said Suffolk Highways had been through a ‘major restructure’.
She said: “We are confident that these changes have made it quicker and simpler for the public to report defects to us, which in turn assists us to plan the required works more effectively and use our resources more efficiently.”