LETTER: No justification for north A27

In a letter of 28/04/16 to Chichester Observer, Councillor Pieter Montyn suggested the matter of improvements to the A27 “cannot be left to Highways England and the Department of Transport alone”.

He believes a public inquiry is in order. This is rich coming from the man who – in common with his fellow WSCC councillors – previously had long held firmly to the view that the question of improvements to the A27 was exclusively a matter for Highways England, with councillors and public alike restricted to offering a “consultative” response.

In signing his letter as WSCC Councillor for the Witterings electoral division, was Mr Montyn seeking to suggest his views are representative of those of WSCC as a whole? Are there not serious questions to be addressed here, concerning the code of conduct to which elected councillors are obliged to adhere? WSCC should clarify, immediately, their collective position with regard to Councillor Montyn’s views.

In Chichester Observer of 19/05/16 Anthea Banks at Highways England made it clear that for Highways England it was the costs of the northern option which made it unviable. Mr Montyn prefers to believe this option – for which he has long campaigned obsessively – was dropped because of the influence of the Goodwood Estate. In his letter he characterised the Estate as delivering “a luxury leisure experience” before declaring, in a most patronising way, that “the ordinary tens of thousands of folk who live in the area or who pass through can only wonder what benefit this brings them and their families in their daily lives”.

Leaving aside the many reasons there are for supporting Highways England’s rational and welcome commitment to making significant improvements to the already existing southern route, as one of those local “folk” I have this to say in response to the pseudo-demotic rhetoric of Councillor Montyn: Apart from the sheer pleasure and many economic benefits generated for the region by the various days devoted to horse racing, the Festival of Speed and the Revival Weekend – all immensely popular events – one benefit from Goodwood to be cherished is that the presence of the Estate offers “ordinary tens of thousands of folk” some protection from the devastating consequences which would ensue, were Montyn’s obsession with a northern route ever to be acted upon and realised.

It has emerged, apparently, that Highways England’s traffic modelling figures suggest that while a northern route could save up to nine minutes on a through journey, local trips would increase in duration by some five minutes. By what commonly understood logic or reason could Councillor Montyn believe such figures might be held to justify trashing some of the most beautiful and historically significant countryside in southern England, while also affecting severely those many “ordinary folk” in the area – and beyond – who depend on the Goodwood Estate and other local employers for their livelihood?

Dr Michael Tucker

Pook Lane

East Lavant