A community leader is planning to lodge a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman over a decision to halt plans to close part of Sudbury town centre to traffic. 

The scheme, which would have seen half of Market Hill closed to drivers through the summer months with parking removed to create space for outdoor dining at the restaurants, was approved by Sudbury Town Council in February.

However, Suffolk County Council, the body with the power to approve the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order that would have been required for the move, confirmed in April that the proposal would not go ahead.

Councillor Richard Smith MVO, then-cabinet member for economic development, skills, transport strategy and waste, who was in charge of making the decision, said replacing the parking spaces would 'benefit only a few of the businesses' and, after hearing concerns raised by the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, he said he was not willing to authorise the closure. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr Richard Smith MVOCllr Richard Smith MVO (Image: SCC)

Parish councillor Jan Osborne said she lodged a complaint with the county council five weeks ago in which she suggested Mr Smith did not follow due process in his decision making as he did not consult Sudbury Town Council beforehand to allow them to share their own findings. 

The council's monitoring officer has since responded and said, in hindsight, Mr Smith "should have explained the reasons for his decision to third parties, town or parish council, local councillors and businesses" but that there was "no breach of good governance principles and the overarching ETRO legal procedures". 

Cllr Osborne said she is now planning to complain to the local government ombudsman over the decision.

East Anglian Daily Times: Parish councillor Jan Osborne Parish councillor Jan Osborne (Image: Sudbury Town Council)

"It would appear that the Conservative-run SCC are not supporting Suffolk town councils to make democratic decisions that would enable the towns to re-invent themselves and survive the many challenges facing them," she said.

"Although Mr Smith may have followed due process he did not make any attempt to establish what he was being told was correct and certainly did not contact the town council.

"To quote from the SCC Constitution under the principles of Decision Making, 9.2.2 all relevant parties must be consulted prior to any decision.

"The need for consultation with interested parties does not appear to have been followed prior to the decision."

She continued: "This has caused a huge amount of anger amongst residents, more than half the town councillors and many members of the chamber of commerce.

"As mentioned before I am not giving up on this and will continue to fight this decision."

John Ward, who represents Brett Vale on Babergh District Council, said he was "disappointed" at the ruling of the monitoring officer.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr John WardCllr John Ward (Image: BMSDC)

He said while he accepts Mr Smith has the authority to cancel the plan he is also concerned by the lack of consultation. 

"There was no consultation with the town council, which would have provided evidence that conflicted with the Chamber of Commerce survey that was the sole basis for the decision – a survey that I have been told didn’t even have the full support of the chamber itself," he said.

"This does seem to be just one decision of several that indicate that the county council is not inclined to support traffic measures that enhance the quality of life for all residents."

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson said: "Suffolk County Council notes that the complainant intends to refer this matter to the LGSCO and has no further comment at this time."