A new Conservative Member of Parliament for Ipswich was elected in 2010. On his first day in office, he stood on the Wet Dock quay and had a Great Vision of a new tomorrow with a broad new road bridge spanning the River Orwell below the lock gates and a high-tech business village on the Island site and a swing-bridge over the lock for cyclists and pedestrians (which, ironically, already existed, built by Ransome & Rapier in 1949). And, although some people couldn’t see the reasoning because the Island site was already served by a road from St Peter’s Dock, a second bridge was apparently needed from Felaw Street over New Cut.
And soon a Mr Osborne – you may have heard of him – saw that it was good and set aside 77 million of your English pounds to be spent as part of the National Infrastructure Plan (which meant that none of this would need Planning Permission). And some people in Ipswich saw that it was good and that it would cut a few minutes off their car journey time and some differed and doubted that the Biggest Bridge would help in reducing traffic through the town, when it patently would attract traffic from using the Orwell Bridge, yea, even from the A14.
And some people were sore afraid of the Felaw Street bridge, perhaps because they couldn’t see why it was needed and also it would mess up an historic part of Over Stoke and because it would almost certainly be fixed. Which would have put sailing barges in a fix also, because they wouldn’t be able to navigate New Cut up to St Peter’s Dock – yea verrily, a dock outside the Wet Dock and of great historical and maritime significance.
Many powerful people said that it was good and couldn’t understand the moaning minnies, NIMBYs and nay-sayers who wet-blanketed the Three Bridges and deserved to be cast out to Clacton, or even worse. But gradually, even those who looked forward to cutting a few minutes off their car journeys by using the Biggest Bridge began to have misgivings. And, lo, it wasn’t so good that traffic would double, triple, quadrupeddle (or even more) on either side of the Biggest Bridge, backing up to Clapgate Lane and making it a dangerous place for parents and children outside Cliff Lane Primary School to cross. And it turned out that traffic mitigation wasn’t going to have any money spent on it because already the prophesied costs of the bridge schemes were rising and it was difficult to see how it was all going to be paid for, despite the generosity of Mr Osborne – who you might remember, but who had now gone – to the Conservative Member of Parliament – who had also now gone.
‘Who is this and what is here?’ said a few brave souls who thought that they could remember what on earth all this was about. And thought, O Best Beloved, that they could recall lots of money spent on an architectural competition where the winning entry floated above the water, as if by some magic, and thought that could remember lots of noisy drilling to test the geology deep in the bowels of the Earth for the Biggest Bridge supports (which had now appeared).
But on the Seventh Day another important person said that there was going to be a PAUSE in The Whole Thing. ‘Paws?’ asked a wag, who was rapidly silenced. And many people were full of wonderment at this strange turn of events and thought that it was odd that important people who they thought were initially in favour of The Whole Thing were now saying, having heard the outcry, that it was sensible to PAUSE. And so, all paused and waited…
Bridget Pawsey (as told to the Editor)