Why am I pictured here on my bicycle on Cross Street, Sudbury, with local resident Theo Bird and Green architect Ralph Carpenter?
The story beings 11 years ago, when Suffolk County Council decided to apply to the Government for funding to build a bypass over Sudbury’s water meadows to try to keep some lorries out of Sudbury. The Government ministers came back with the answer: no. The environmental costs were far higher than any benefits, they said. But they did advise the council to get on with trying to reduce traffic in the town. Our county councillors for the area have done nothing about that.
Babergh has a legal duty to monitor pollution and ensure that its residents aren’t being exposed to dangerous levels. It found back in the early noughties that the air next to the houses on Cross Street and Ballingdon Road in Sudbury exceeded legal health limits. The levels of particulates and nitrogen dioxide were high enough to seriously damage residents’ lungs. So then Babergh and the roads authority, Suffolk County Council, had a legal duty to do something about it.
As a result Cross Street was declared an AQMA – Air Quality Management Area – in 2008. The idea was to implement a plan to cut pollution. What have our councils achieved 11 years on from being told that a bypass made no sense and six years after the street was declared a special area? The answer is nothing.
Now we have a new Conservative parliamentary candidate for south Suffolk, he must have a host of imaginative answers to Sudbury’s traffic problems, right? Well, no. He has done a photo call for the EADT and Suffolk Free Press surrounded by members of Suffolk County Council in which he calls for…..a bypass!
The way to cut pollution, noise and danger in Sudbury is to slow and calm traffic in the town, making it a more pleasant place to walk and cycle so that more people are encouraged to leave their cars at home.
That means three things: An area-wide 20mph limit, a long standing Sudbury town council request that has been ignored by Suffolk County Council. Secondly, scrapping the out-dated one-way system that generates pollution by encouraging constant acceleration and braking and has turned parts of the town into a race track. And finally, a comprehensive campaign to cut demand for car use by improving bus services and encouraging car sharing and cycling in the town.
This would be cheaper and quicker than a bypass, but it would mean Suffolk County Council and Babergh would actually have to do something rather than waiting for Government.