A councillor has accused Chichester’s leaders of either ‘misleading’ its residents or being ‘duped’ by the government over the A27.
Richard Plowman, a city and district councillor for Chichester West, says it will be at least ten years before the A27 is again considered for government funding and the scheme being axed puts plans for the Southern Gateway and Chichester Vision in jeopardy.
In a robust response, however, Chichester District Council leader Tony Dignum said it was ‘simply untrue’ that the Vision or Southern Gateway were in danger, saying the council has always supported improvements to the bypass but wanted ‘openness and transparency’.
In a letter to the Observer, Lib Dem cllr Plowman, a former mayor, expressed his sadness and sorry for the people of Chichester who he said now face ‘at least a further ten years of traffic congestion and misery’.
Cllr Plowman said: “I agree the whole process has been far from transparent and unsatisfactory and has divided Chichester firmly down a North/South divide.
“We have to trust our leaders to guide us and ensure the best interest of Chichester and the surrounding area would be protected.
“Either we have been misled by our leaders or our leaders had been duped by central Government.
“Should they have called for a re-consultation when the outcome was a loss of the funding?
“Should they have realised a Government strapped for cash would jump at the opportunity to save £250m?”
In response, cllr Dignum said: “In his letter, Mr Plowman asked if we should have called for a re-consultation when the outcome was a loss of the funding.
“This is surprising, considering that Mr Plowman seconded an amendment requested by cllr Andrew Shaxson to the council’s recommendation on January 24.”
Cllr Dignum said CDC’s £12.8m commitment towards the improvement scheme had not changed.
He said the consultation result showing that 47 per cent of respondents voted for ‘no option’ because they were not happy with the solutions on the table, vindicated CDC and West Sussex County Council’s call for an all new consultation.
Cllr Dignum said: “When the consultation process took place, we voted for Option 2, but made it clear that the online options did not satisfactorily address the access between the Manhood Peninsula and the A27 and that these issues would need to be resolved.
“We then joined West Sussex County Council in asking Highways England to re-run the consultation process and to include a range of options.
“This was not about the council favouring a particular option, it was about the transparency of the process and public confidence in the preferred option.”
He added that the community now needed to ‘pull together’ to get the government to change its decision.
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