FOR decades, people living in Halstead have felt they have been plagued by lorries and HGVs filling up their roads.

The town provides a direct route between Braintree and Sudbury.

But at what cost?

For pedestrians and drivers, the number of HGVs in Halstead can be too much to bear.

One particular hotpot is Halstead’s Head Street.

The street is right in the town centre with a tight mini-roundabout junction which is difficult to navigate.

The road itself is also narrow, being originally designed to accommodate horse and carts rather than ten-tonne trucks.

Houses are also close to the road with doors opening on to narrow pavements.

The road has been labelled a pinch-point by many councillors who say something must be done to get lorries out of the town.

Concerns have been raised in the past over the safety of pedestrians with many also worried about the impact of air pollution on residents.

Due to the ever increasing volume of traffic, credence had been lent to plans for a Halstead bypass.

But after decades of lobbying, the prospect of a bypass is no closer to becoming a reality.

The idea, first mooted more than 30 years ago, would see a road built around the town, with old designs showing a junction on A131 Mount Hill to divert lorries before they reach the town.

A road would then stretch to Colchester Road on the A1124 before moving west.

It would then head north before linking to Sudbury Road on the A131 and Doe’s Corner on Hedingham Road.

Jackie Pell has been a councillor for about 39 years and says the bypass has been an issue for as long as she can remember.

She would dearly love to see one built and said: “It is still needed. The drivers know what the shorter routes are and for them, time is money.

“In the long-term, we need a bypass. Nothing has changed, if anything it has got worse with more traffic and more lorries.”

However, Essex County Council has poured cold water on a bypass being built any time soon.

A spokesman said: “We appreciate the traffic issues in Halstead and have met with the town council and other partners to review different ideas to alleviate congestion.

“However, there are many demands upon funding in Essex and a study into a potential bypass is not a current priority project for funding at this stage.”

As a more viable alternative, the county and town councils of Essex, Suffolk, Halstead and Sudbury have been working to create a strategic lorry route.

With the plans being in discussion for more than a year, and delayed due to the pandemic, work is now under way to discourage HGV drivers from using Halstead to reach Suffolk.

It is thought signage on the A12 at the Boreham Interchange could be adding to the number of lorries being directed to the town’s tight streets.

Now Essex County Council has said new signage is being introduced which would recommend drivers continue to use the A12 rather than cut through.

A spokesman added: “While a bypass around the town of Halstead could only be considered as a longer-term project and would be subject to the availability of funding from central government or significant growth in the size of Halstead, we have worked with Highways England to amend through route signing on the A12 at Chelmsford to reduce long distance traffic levels through the town. These changes should happen shortly.”

It seems like the road to significant change will be far longer.