After campaigning on their own for many years about the damage being inflicted on their communities by the ever increasing numbers of heavy lorries eight Suffolk Parish Councils joined forces in 1997 to form the Save our Rural Roads Campaign (SORR). This movement was instigated by Grundisburgh & Culpho Parish Council. Membership has now grown to 15 villages - Clopton, Coddenham, Culpho, Bredfield, Burgh, Charsfield, Debach, Grundisburgh, Hasketon, Hemingstone, Letheringham, Otley, Swilland & Witnesham and Wickham Market.
The first action SORR made was to organise a Traffic Survey on the 1st April 1997 which provided vital statistical information on the extent of the problem. The second was a meeting between the County Council & Suffolk Coastal District Council and SORR members which took place the 8th January, 1998 where the results of the survey were an important factor. This was the first time that both authorities had met with villages to discuss the problem and paved the way for future consultation and working together in seeking solutions. Since then SORR has been successful in gaining the confidence of the local authorities by conducting a further traffic survey in April 2000 and persistent lobbying.
As a result of years of patient and constructive work SORR is now recognised by Suffolk Coastal & Mid Suffolk District Councils and the County Council as consultees and have made many representations particularly on Local Plans. SORR’s participation has been actively encouraged by the local authorities who recognise that SORR has built up a wealth of knowledge and expertise and is behaving in a responsible and constructive manner.
Several principles have been established:
- Existing business are not going to go away but further expansion should be resisted
- New business generating heavy lorry traffic should be located adjacent to the primary road network – this has been incorporated into Suffolk Coastal Local Plan.
- Existing HGV traffic should be better managed to even out HGV flows on permitted roads as far as possible so as to share the burden upon communities.
Results of Traffic Survey
A traffic survey was conducted in September 2004 in conjunction with the County Council. The County Council carried out a traffic count for 2 weeks starting 13th September at various locations. A more detailed survey was carried out on the 13th September at ten locations – five manned by SORR members and five by the County Council. Click here to see a summary of the results
Coddenham – through route or Living Community?
A report has been compiled by a small group of Coddenham residents who had come to the conclusion that living conditions in their village were deteriorating so rapidly, with no substantive measures taken by the County Council to do anything about it, that if residents did not take some sort of action, then no-one else would. To view the report click here
A questionnaire was distributed to all those living along the B1078 route through the village. These and extracts from the County Council’s own reports form the basis of the report which was completed in September 2006. The report was sent to the County Council’s Director of Environment and Transport and other senior County Council officers and members of the cabinet. Copies were also sent to Mid-Suffolk District Council, Suffolk Preservation Society and to the Member of Parliament and District and County Councillors representing Coddenham.
A month later a reply was received from Suffolk County Council which said in effect that as the numbers of Heavy Goods Vehicles were greater elsewhere Coddenham did not have a problem. There was no reference to any of the social problems and enormous disruption arising from the deliberate routing of HGVs through the mini-urban centre of Coddenham, using a road judged as unsuitable even for one way HGVs in 1996 by the county’s own consultants.
The County Council’s response is being challenged. In the meantime the Campaign to Save our Rural Roads is proposing to engage the services of well respected consultant specialising in road safety aspects to undertake a study of the situation in Coddenham. This would be undertaken in cooperation with the Suffolk Preservation Society and the Suffolk Association of Local Councils. If the consultant finds that the situation in Coddenham does present a significant road safety hazard then action must be taken to rectify it. In this way, Coddenham could become the model for dealing with the traffic problems in other locations.
A fighting fund has been started. The estimated cost is between £2,000 and £5,000 and already donations have been received from two very generous people of £500 each. If you would like to help please Email
For more information contact the Secretary:
Tony Fryatt, Allby Green, Woodbridge Road, Debach, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP13 6BU
Telephone: 01473-737218 Email
The group has launched a fighting fund to enable it to continue its work to reduce the heavy lorry traffic from the unsuitable roads in our area. So far over £2,700 has been from donations in just two villages indicating the strength of feeling among residents in the area.
A major source is the traffic to and from Debach Enterprises to support their unauthorised storage and distribution of plastic chips at the Clopton site. To enable Debach Enterprises to enter into this contract, they have used the section of the old runway to the rear of the Depot and two areas within the compound, none of which has appropriate planning permission. These violations of planning conditions started in 2004.
After much prompting from SORR, Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) did eventually serve an Enforcement Notice (in September last year) to resolve the breach of planning regulations. Of course, Debach Enterprises has appealed against this and can continue to operate until a full public enquiry is held. The hearing is set for three days starting on 31 July, some ten months after the Notice was served.
We should not be in this position and we should not have been forced to tolerate this nuisance for the past three years. SORR contend that if SCDC had acted more promptly and effectively from the outset, the situation could have been resolved much earlier. The group has made five complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman about what it sees as maladministration of enforcement procedures by SCDC. The report from the Ombudsman is imminent, but even if it agrees with SORR, it cannot force SCDC to give us greater protection, only advise.
The message is beginning to get through. Following prompting by SORR, action was recently taken by SCDC to stop further unauthorised storage of the plastic chips in two barns bordering Debach Enterprises. This has now ceased and the barns cleared.
Another approach made by SORR has been to contact the Saudi-Arabian company that supplies the plastic chips to make it aware of the adverse affects on the 12 villages represented by the group and the unauthorised use of the land on which to store them.
SORR have also discovered that the main building at the Depot should not be used for anything other than the storage of UK-produced grain. This was a fundamental condition imposed when the original planning permission was granted to Debach Enterprises in 1981 and it is still legally enforceable. However, despite considerable pressure, SCDC refuse to take any action to enforce this condition. This refusal is also the subject of a complaint by SORR to the Ombudsman. If they cannot get this changed by the recommendation of the Ombudsman, SORR will seek a ‘judicial review’ in the courts and would need funds to pay for this.
The SORR fighting fund has already sponsored safety surveys by the Freight Transport Association. The first of these has been carried out on the B1078 at Coddenham and the second is to be undertaken shortly on the C309 through Bredfield, Boulge and Debach. Following these, it is intended to have a survey completed for the B1079. We all know that these roads are inherently dangerous for walkers and cyclists (and even car users) but SORR will be able to provide evidence from this well-respected body to the Transport Authorities just how dangerous. All the measures and statistics show that the problem of HGVs on rural roads is increasing and will continue to increase, unless some drastic actions are taken. It is destroying communities. To date, the measures introduced have been about managing the problems. Without enormous expenditure on new roads, this is doomed to failure. The only possible solution is to remove the source of these lorries so that there is no need to squeeze them along totally unsuitable rural roads. Our planners must insist that the businesses generating heavy lorry traffic are located in close proximity to the main lorry routes and not stuck at the end of narrow country lanes. Only then will the villages in this area be able to reclaim their roads.
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