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  1. ITV Report

Failed Ipswich bridge project 'let down' Suffolk's taxpayers

The early designs for the Upper Orwell Crossings project. Credit: Suffolk County Council

Business leaders say Ipswich must continue to 'think big' - despite a costly failure to build a major new bridge over the River Orwell.

Suffolk County Council spent £8.1 million on the Upper Orwell Crossings scheme, a project that was eventually axed due to escalating costs.

Half of that money went to one consultancy firm and critics say the taxpayer has been let down.

  • Click below to watch a full report from ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell.

The scheme aimed to establish three bridges across the River Orwell in Ipswich - including a traffic crossing to alleviate gridlock on the one-way system.

The council originally aimed to spend around £97 million - £20 million from county council funding and the remainder from the Department for Transport.

However, an independent review last summer found costs had escalated by around £40 million, so Conservative county council leader Matthew Hicks decided to axe the project.

“We remain committed to infrastructure development in and around Ipswich. There is still the possibility that the two smaller bridges could be built, opening up development of the island site.

"We have maintained our commitment to underwrite up to £10.8million towards these smaller bridges and are committed to working with the key stakeholders who will be instrumental in bringing this forward.”

– Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council Leader

A report from the council also shows that over £4 million was paid to a single consultancy company - WSP.

The company was the main design consultant for the scheme. It's work included highways and structural engineering designs, planning advice, and maritime and environmental services, according to the report.

Despite the Upper Orwell Crossing project never being completed, the firm defended it's work.

"Our work on this project was undertaken as part of our existing professional services support to Suffolk County Council as one of our trusted local authority partners."

– Graham Higgins, WSP Technical Director