A27 groups dispute merits and risks of a consultation re-run

Members of A27 Chichester - no option is still an option ahead of Andrew Tyrie's recent visit
Members of A27 Chichester - no option is still an option ahead of Andrew Tyrie's recent visit

A27 campaigners have reacted to Chichester district councillors giving their backing to a new consultation.

Chichester Deserves Better say CDC’s decision puts the whole project at ‘serious risk of indefinite delay’, while members of Chichester A27 - no option is still an option, said councillors’ calls for a new consultation is a vote for transparency.

The Observer front page before Christmas revealing Louise Goldsmith's suggestion that a new consultation could happen

The Observer front page before Christmas revealing Louise Goldsmith's suggestion that a new consultation could happen

Read a report from last week’s CDC full meeting here

In a statement, Chichester Deserves Better (CDB) said: “We believe Chichester District Council’s request for a re-run of the A27 consultation is a decision that puts the whole project for upgrading the online junctions at serious risk of indefinite delay.

“Those who have an ambition to create a northern bypass at any cost are now putting the residents of Chichester at risk of nothing being done for years.

“If the consultation is re-run it is highly likely that the funding will be re-allocated by Highways England onto other less complicated and more urgent projects. Chichester will have lost its delivery slot.

“The online junction improvements to the A27 are something that Chichester cannot do without to support the growth in traffic, including the local traffic load from the additional housing in the CDC local plan.

“The A27 project budget at its upper end is set at £250m and with the cheapest of the northern routes at £329m before compensation, it is clear to see that any northern routes, would again be discounted as unviable and undeliverable. “This project never has been about a new Chichester Bypass, it has always been about an upgrade of the existing junctions.”

CDB added that letters between Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie and transport secretary Chris Grayling made clear why a northern bypass had been dropped ahead of a rescheduled consultation, which took place at the end of last summer.

The group said, therefore a call for transparency ‘will not achieve more’, and said public faith would be better addressed by Highways England publishing the results of the public consultation and a preferred route, of the five on-line options it is considering.

However, Chichester A27 - no option is still an option - a group calling for a new consultation to be run - say it would not result in funding going elsewhere and is needed to get the right solution to long-standing traffic issues.

“Chichester District Council is not alone with its vote for transparency and re-run of the A27 Consultation,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We need transparency in Highway England’s options and accountably of those that have influenced any decision making. “Mr Grayling stated categorically this will not put us at the end of the queue.

“The A27 is a strategic route which needs to be upgraded; we will not lose funding.

“The focus must be on getting the A27 right for local and through traffic, well into the future.”

The group said the Road Investment Strategy - which allocates money for upgrading the existing stretch of A27 - was based on old traffic data and not those done in 2014 which show an increase to 42 per cent of through traffic.

“Alarmingly how can Mr Grayling be advised to waste £250m on obsolete 2010 data of 20 per cent through traffic, to the detriment of Chichester?” the group said.

“Surely a small delay in order to get the best results is a price worth paying? Highways England didn’t fear losing funding when it delayed the consultation as the northern options were mysteriously withdrawn.

“It’s right to demand accountability and transparency in a consultation where FOIs go unanswered, obsolete data is informing decision-making at top level and tax-payers’ money would otherwise be spent on short term fixes.

“Is it not prudent and best practice to use this opportunity to rebuild public trust and to consult everyone with a re-run on the best long-term solution for Chichester’s development, based on up to date conditions?”

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