It was very heartening to read in the House of Commons Hansard record for 22nd November that our MP Gillian Keegan has asked the Secretary of State Grayling whether it is still the Department of Transport’s intention to fund major road improvements around Chichester within the recently increased budget for the five year 2020 road investment strategy RIS2.
Interestingly she makes reference to what she describes as minor road improvements contained in Chichester District Council’s proposed local plan, which will be published for public consultation on 13 December 2018 and run for eight weeks. These suggested changes include a Fishbourne to Stockbridge raised link road and restricted turning options on the A27 junctions. Many will remember that such minor southern ‘improvements’ were roundly rejected by the public two years ago in the Highways England consultation following the sudden withdrawal of the northern options for the A27.
Encouragingly, our MP states the strategic solution is the only viable option to solve the problems with the A27. Mrs Keegan attended many Build a Better A27 workshops where this was established by many participating community groups from across the district. It was disappointing, therefore, to read Mr Grayling’s response in which he puts the blame for the delay of this scheme with our local councils for what he describes as their rejection of Highways England’s plan. The sole reason why the scheme is where it is today is because Highways England were persuaded to withdraw the Northern options from consultation within two weeks of its intended start date in March 2016. Public opinion remains well aware of this today following Freedom of Information disclosures.
The public voted against the remaining options because they judged that spending tens of millions of pounds on a temporary sticking plaster scheme that would disadvantage local traffic and not solve congestion, accidents or pollution long term would be a negligent waste of taxpayers money. I hope Mrs Keegan will correct the Secretary of State on this point and she will continue to press for adequate funding for a strategic solution for Chichester’s A27 in RIS2.
Dr Carolyn Cobbold FRSA, Hundredsteddle Lane, Chichester