The pressure on highways chiefs to lift a Suffolk lorry ban can be revealed by the EADT today.

New data obtained following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request shows the pressure on Suffolk County Council to lift HGV restrictions in Eye from neighbouring parishes.

In all, 355 people responded to a public consultation, carried out between May 2023 and January 2024, with 76% of people believing the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) was having a negative impact on neighbouring parishes.

A petition received in February, Stop the Lorry Ban in Eye to Support Stradbroke and Debenham, received 294 signatures, while joint objections were also raised by parishes including Debenham and Denham.

The traffic order was lifted earlier this month, sparking huge backlash among Eye residents.

One Debenham resident wrote in the consultation: “This weight limit is rather silly. All that has happened is that HGV traffic that wants to travel to a location along the B1077 now has to go through Debenham and that is a worse route for large vehicles. There are far more pinch points and Debenham can become rather busy with parked cars on the blind hill.

“Maybe a one-way system in through Eye and out via Debenham would have been a better idea and would also stop large vehicles meeting and attempting to negotiate tight areas. I am saying this also as a professional driver.”

Another agreed, warning of a dangerous increase in lorries driving through Debenham.

They said: “No HGVs are coming through Eye so they are now coming through Debenham. It's horrendous - a bad accident waiting to happen.”

While most responses were from residents of the IP14, IP23 and IP21 postcodes, people as far away as Thetford and Ipswich were keen to share their views.

East Anglian Daily Times: Map showing number of responses from each postcode district (darkest to lightest, most to fewest responses)Map showing number of responses from each postcode district (darkest to lightest, most to fewest responses) (Image: Base map: Richardguk)

However, 41% of people in the public consultation believed the traffic restriction had had a positive impact on the centre of Eye, compared to 19% who did not.

One resident of a nearby parish even said: “There has been a great reduction in HGV traffic in Redlingfield. So the new order has helped us a lot.”

The county council’s traffic monitoring data, conducted at 15 locations over a five-day period before and after the implementation of the ETRO, does not include any observations for 2024.

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk County Council's traffic survey data conducted across five-day periods in 2022 and 2023.Suffolk County Council's traffic survey data conducted across five-day periods in 2022 and 2023. (Image: Suffolk County Council)

According to the council: “Traffic flow data does support the view of neighbouring parishes, predominantly Debenham and Hoxne and to a lesser extent in Stradbroke, that significant increases of HGVs have occurred along alternative routes through neighbouring parishes.”

The High Street in Debenham recorded a 46% increase in lorries between 2022 and 2023.

East Anglian Daily Times:

Richard Smith, cabinet member for economic development, skills, transport strategy and waste at County Hall, said: "Unfortunately, restricting HGV access in Eye has only moved the problem to other communities, which is not acceptable.

“I understand that this is an important and upsetting issue for many people in Eye, but solving this type of problem in a rural county with few good quality routes is far from easy.

"We will continue to look at ways to mitigate the heavy traffic in Eye, including engineering measures and potentially different types of traffic restrictions.

“However, an overwhelming number of people were opposed to this restriction, and it is only right that we take their views into account and bring the experiment to an end.”