Suffolk County Council Conservative administration has confirmed that they will not be giving money to fund improvement schemes in Ipswich, to stop verges from being turned into mud patches every winter.
Following a number of complaints from residents about the state of the road verges in Rushmere Division the County Councillor for the area and the Labour Spokesperson for Roads and Transport Cllr Sandra Gage has challenged the administration to step up to the plate and fund small scale projects that will help local people.
Currently people park their cars on the grass verges which have led to long term damage, requiring levelling and reseeding every year at a cost to the council, without solving the problem. It also leaves older residents or those with limited mobility at risk of falls in the mud, or isolated at home.
Cllr Gage has been approached by a carer who looks after an elderly gentleman living in the Inverness Road area after he twice slipped and fell into the mud. She says “Age UK and Ipswich Borough Housing have contacted me because residents are at risk because of the condition of the verges, and are unable to walk the distances required to avoid the muddy areas, leaving people like this is unacceptable. When any of the Labour Ipswich Councillors speak to residents they all voice concerns about the state of the verges.”
Cllr Gage has looked into what long-term solutions could be introduced by the County Council in order to stop this happening, and asked Graham Newman to use money sitting in the County Council coffers – the on street parking fund – which is worth £1.8m. This includes money accrued from parking fees in the town, and is usually spent on minor road improvements. This year it’s being used as an ‘efficiency saving’ by the Tory Administration.
However the County Labour Councillors believe that this money should be used as a one off expense to solve the problem of muddy verges for good, and save on the personal cost of residents falling.
Cllr Gage said; “It is ridiculous that the County Council are hoarding £1.8m of taxpayer’s money which could be used to make our road verges a safe place to be. The recent weather has exasperated the problem, but annual reseeding is not a long term sustainable solution to the hazards caused by muddy grass verges”.
She added; “The scheme I am proposing for Inverness Road would cost around £30,000. How much does it cost the Council and the NHS if someone slips over and breaks their hip? Many times that amount. It is only a matter of time before someone seriously injures themselves, Suffolk County Council really need to act on this now.”