Chichester District Council has backed a motion calling for a re-run of the consultation on improvements to the A27 - including northern bypass options.
Full council overwhelmingly backed the call today (Tuesday, January 24), tabled by leader Tony Dignum.
Mr Dignum said last year’s consultation had only ‘limited options’, with concerns over the transparency of the process when northern bypass options were not included.
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling reportedly told West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith at a private function in December he was open to a re-run if the councils and MP Andrew Tyrie supported the call.
Addressing full council, Mr Dignum said: “The inadequate response from Highways England on the reasons for dropping the northern options leaves us at present with only one practical way of securing transparency and a full and open comparison of all the options – namely to take up the Secretary of State’s apparent offer of a new consultation on a wider range of options.”
Backing the motion, Harting Independent Andrew Shaxson said supporting a re-run was worth the risk of losing funding.
He said: “Hopefully they will reassess all the options. If that means we lose the money at this time, it is better than spending it on the fragmented and ill-considered options on the table.”
Nigel Galloway, Conservative councillor for Chichester South, said the motion was ‘entirely about the transparency and regaining the confidence in the consultation options’.
Tangmere’s Simon Oakley said the debate had been triggered when Mr Grayling ‘put a different option on the table’.
He said options needed to be based on the most up-to-date evidence.
But opposing the motion, Josef Ransley, councillor for Wisborough Green, questioned the validity of Mr Grayling’s remarks.
He said he had spoken to Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, who said his conversations with the Secretary of State had ‘got a completely contrary view’.
Midhurst’s Gordon McAra said: “I must say I am absolutely staggered that the reason why we are here that after two years of hard work and consultation and many hundreds of thousands of pounds spent in the process that we are here because somebody talked to somebody else at a Conservative party cocktail event.
“I take that as an astonishing way to run our government.”
Westbourne councillor Mark Dunn called for the council to only request publication of the results of last summer’s consultation.
He said the council could then decide if it wanted a re-run once the results were known. His amendment was lost.
The motion called for publication, without delay, of the results of last summer’s consultation.
It called for Mr Grayling to instruct Highways England to ‘undertake a new consultation on improvements to the A27 around Chichester with an extended range of options including the two previously developed northern bypass options’.
An amendment by Mr Shaxson saw the wording amended to include ‘an extended and reassessed range of options’.