Report number: OAS/WS/21/011
The Committee received report number: OAS/WS/21/011, which updated members on the current status of its rolling work programme of items for scrutiny during 2021-2022 (Appendix 1), the submission of a Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) request by Councillor Trevor Beckwith and the nomination of at least one member to the Modern-day Slavery Working Group.
Councillor Trevor Beckwith introduced the CCfA entitled “Impact of the Eastern Relief Road and A14 Junction 45 on the Moreton Hall Residential Area, attached at Appendix 2 to the report. Councillor Beckwith referred to the CCfA Protocol and explained that his submission met the requirements of the Protocol as the matter directly affected his ward; accepted that there was no guarantee of a successful resolution but was optimistic that the Committee would consider the issues and merit recommendations; and the CCfA was the last resort and had provided evidence set out in Appendices 2 – 7 that all relevant mechanisms and resources available had been exhausted.
Councillor Beckwith explained that the construction of the Eastern Relief Road was a joint venture between Suffolk County Council, the then St Edmundsbury Borough Council and the LEP, to provide access to the huge expansion at Suffolk Park/Suffolk Business Park. Additionally, Junction 45 of the A14 trunk road underwent a major upgrade to improve access to the new road. The project cost was estimated to be £15m but there was an overspend of £4.8m. Much of the overspend was to comply with Highway England requirements at Junction 45. The business parks include massive warehousing and distribution centres that generate increasing numbers of HGV journeys. Unfortunately, the HGV increase was adversely impacting on several residential areas of the Moreton Hall estate despite the junction upgrade.
Documents attached to the CCfA demonstrated that all reasonable attempts to resolve the issue had been taken over the last three years, but the responses demonstrate that the matter was not being progressed. This was not part of a personal agenda but the response by an elected member to the frustration and annoyance at the avoidable loss of amenity for a large section of the residential community.
Councillor Beckwith hoped the committee would agree to a formal hearing so it could hear from local residents, a representative from the local residents’ association and representatives from the business parks, increasing reasons to be optimistic that the committee would be able to make recommendations to benefit all concerned. This was a reputational issue for everyone involved.
Councillor Cliff Waterman supported the CCfA requested and explained the issue also impacted on his ward and acknowledged there was a high level of frustration with resident’s and agreed it was a reputational issue.
Other members of the Committee also indicated they supported Councillor Beckwith’s CCfA submission for inclusion in its forward work programme.
The Committee then considered the request to nominate at least one new member from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to replace Councillor Ingwall-King on the Modern-Day Slavery Working Group who resigned as a West Suffolk Councillor in March 2021. The Committee felt that Councillor Julia Wakelam who would be replacing Councillor Ingwall-King on the Committee might be interested in sitting on this Group and agreed to defer this item to its next scheduled meeting on 8 July 2021 for further consideration.
At the conclusion of discussions, the Committee:
1) Noted the current status of topics currently scheduled in its rolling work programme for 2021, attached at Appendix 1;
2) Deferred nominating a Councillor to sit on the Modern-Day Slavery Working Group until it’s 8 July 2021 meeting; and
3) Accepted the CCfA for inclusion into its forward work programme.