During the selection process to become the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, writes Tom Hunt, I made clear my support for a northern relief road for Ipswich. I’m fully aware of how significant this issue is for Ipswich and the benefits that a new road could bring. Since my selection as the candidate at the end of September, I’ve been out and about across the town talking to residents and the importance of the road has been impressed upon me strongly. When I launched my campaign website campaigning for the road was listed as one of my top priorities.
However, something I have also picked up whilst discussing the issue with many people locally is the lack of optimism that the project will ever happen. The reality is that the road is long overdue, and I can understand why there is a degree of cynicism. The sense I get from many people I talk to is that it’s great in principle but is unlikely to ever happen.
This does make me think back to my first experience of local government in early 2011. I spent a wet and windy Saturday in February wandering around Ely market square collecting signatures for a petition calling for Ely to have a new southern bypass. A much-needed piece of infrastructure that would deal with a key bottleneck that was blighting the City. I remember vividly the conversations I had on the day, many who signed the petition did whilst also adding the comment, “It will never happen”.
However, last week I had the pleasure of being at the official opening of the Ely southern bypass. Seven years after I originally started campaigning for it, longer than I would have liked, but delivered nonetheless.
Whilst appreciating the significant differences between the two projects the Ely southern bypass cost just under £50 million. If the northern relief road is to be a dual carriage road the cost estimate I’ve heard is around £250 million, the reality is it could well be more.
As the Conservative PPC for Ipswich and someone who hopes to win the honour of being the MP for the town, I’m determined to play my role in campaigning for a northern relief road. I will work with whoever I can to make it happen. I’ve already discussed the matter with the Leader of the County Council and plan to raise it the Roads Minister over the coming months. What we do know is that in the Budget the Government highlighted the importance of investment into the road network and putt aside £29 billion for the purpose. Let’s make sure we get our fair share.
[The full version of this article on Conservative Home can be read here.]