If we accept the Best 4 Chichester figures of 29,000 voters affected by the possible modified routes of an improved bypass, and add the number of voters living in the city itself, say 21,000, that’s a total of 50,000 who could be expected to take an interest in the project.
Highways England had a response of 4,900 completed questionnaires following their exhaustive and costly consultation process, or less than ten per cent of the possible maximum. Were I the Big Wheel at HE receiving a demand to run the exercise again, with or without the inclusion of more routes, my response would be polite but unequivocally negative.
Yes, the proposals were not perfect, and there won’t be a route which will satisfy everyone, but we all had the chance, given our individual and local perspectives, to freely make comment on the routes as presented. An answer of ‘none of the above’ without qualification was an abdication.
Furthermore, HE could be forgiven for interpreting the overall poor response as apathy, and any rerun would just confirm this. The best course for Ms Goldsmith and her colleagues is simply to express the wish that HE will now make the best use of what feedback referring to the routes on offer was forthcoming and to get on with it. We need an improved bypass now, not a vanity project still years down the line that destroys homes and countryside either to the north or south of the city.