33.1 Councillor C Smart, the Chair of the Task & Finish Group thanked everyone who had contributed to the three meetings for their information given and made reference to the actions which the Group had proposed. These requested reassurance that the programme of planned maintenance would be completed by the end of the financial year and that community engagement take place at Area Committees, in the same way as Town and Parish Councils were consulted. Also other interested parties such as cyclists, disabled groups and bus and taxi companies be consulted particularly with regard to changes at road junctions. A review of the road classifications had also been suggested as these had not been reclassified since 2004 (corrected from the date in the notes), when traffic volume and population figures had been lower. The proposals also called for a long term programme to repair concrete roads which had outlived their life expectancy and it was suggested that £1m be used to upgrade the joints.
33.2 In respect of a review of the road classifications, Councillor Pope expressed concern that should an independent review take place, then less money would be available for repairs and he requested that the word ‘independently’ be removed from the first action. He also said that the Cabinet Member for Highways had acknowledged the consultation with stakeholders and as Ipswich made up 6% of the total of the roads in Suffolk, receiving 31% of carriageway redressing this year had been a good result.
33.3 Councillor Gage said that she was surprised that Suffolk County Council had not looked at the maintenance classifications since 2004 as significant changes had not been reflected. The classifications used speed of vehicles as the criteria to determine the frequency of inspection and repair, not volume of traffic. Almost all roads in Ipswich had a low classification and therefore were inspected only twice a year at the moment. Continual new employment and housing since 2004 meant there could be rapid increases in the amount of deterioration on many of the roads without the appropriate maintenance.
33.4 Councillor Parry expressed concern about why U3b classified roads in urban areas were treated as a lower priority than those in rural areas and Councillor Ion raised the question whether it would be fair for Ipswich’s roads to be reviewed when other areas in Suffolk were not. He asked why all of the 26,000 sections of roadway in Suffolk were not being requested for reclassification as there were many new residential and commercial developments all over Suffolk and although traffic had increased in Ipswich it had increased in other parts of Suffolk too. He also stated that any time or money being spent on a review would be better spent on improving the work being done at the moment. Money might be spent reviewing the classifications and the result be that only marginal changes occurred or nothing changed at all.
33.5 Councillor Chisholm stated that Suffolk County Council also had the responsibility for the condition of pathways and asked if any wheelchair users had been consulted. Councillor C Smart said that a representative from the Disabled Bureau had attended the Task & Finish Group and they had expressed their concerns with pathways from a wheelchair users’ point of view.
33.6 Councillor P Smart, as Portfolio Holder for Environment & Transport said that Ipswich would continue to be, a travel to destination; to be educated, to shop, for health and also the entertainment area for half of Suffolk’s population, so people from outside Ipswich would also benefit from better maintained roads in Ipswich. A case for increased Central Government funding for road repairs could be put, based on more up-to-date road classifications than 2004 and it was in Suffolk County Council’s interest to bid for additional resources. The Chair thanked the Councillors, the SCC Cabinet Member and the Officers and representatives who had taken part in the Task & Finish Group and the Portfolio Holder for Environment & Transport for his input.
that the Chief Executive be tasked to write to Suffolk County Council Highways Department to express the following concerns of the Committee:
1. That the road classification be reviewed as vehicle movements in the growing economic area of Ipswich had increased significantly.
2. That the local knowledge of the members of each Area Committee be considered, in line with that of the Town and Parish Councils.
3. A presentation be given at each Area Committee about the planned year’s maintenance for 2019/20 in line with the planned programme of works.
4. That a plan be considered to review and prioritise the repair of concrete roads in relation to resident’s concerns about noise and deterioration.
5. That increased consultation with cyclists, the disabled and bus and taxi groups take place with regard to changes at road junctions.
6. That there be reassurance that the publicised programme of maintenance for the roads listed in Ipswich would be completed by the end of the financial year.