Andrew Tyrie says he can only ask Chris Grayling to reinstate the £250m for Chichester’s A27 once the community has come up with a ‘broad single approach to solving the problem’.
The Chichester MP spoke at length at last night’s meeting, arranged by West Sussex County Council, to seek a community-led approach to finding a solution to the traffic problems, following Mr Grayling cancelling the scheme last week.
Read a report of last night’s meeting here
Mr Tyrie said: “Louise (Goldsmith) is absolutely right to call this meeting, to send a clear message that we have got to come together with a broad single approach to solving this problem, with compromises, whatever they might be.
“That is then the point that I can go to the secretary of state to ask for the money again.
“That is the point I can work with Nick Gibb and Nick Herbert, and put together a scheme which we can convince Chris Grayling or his successor...that we have a scheme which we know the community will stick with for the duration of the project.”
Mr Tyrie added: “This is a very beautiful city and we’ve got to keep it that way. The question is how can we improve the road infrastructure in a way which minimises environmental damage.
“All roads cause problems, no road project is ever popular at the time.”
Mr Tyrie said the strong feeling by residents living not only south of the A27 but also in the city that what Highways England had proposed in its five options would actually make congestion there worse was a ‘powerful point’ to take forward.
He said: “I have to say from my point of view, suggesting even more money, I never thought I’d get them up to £250m, a huge amount to invest in and area.
“What I’ve got to do now is find a way back in Westminster, having almost got that money, and start all over again.
“What I always felt, was that is was absolutely crucial to get to a point where they were really committed to spending this money, and then have an argument on how best to use it for the benefit of the area.
“What has worried me deeply is that it can be very difficult to get to that point of a commitment to the money.”
Mr Tyrie took a number of questions from a packed audience, including on the possibility of tunnelling, to which he said: “Because we’re so close to the water table so it’s extremely expensive. I’m told the technology will make that much easier.”
And urging a more calm and measured approach, he added: “This is not going to be an easy road ahead, but the first thing is to take a bit of time and think what will improve the conditions, the overall welfare of my constituents who are facing this appalling congestion, which is only going to get worse.
“Once we have some clarity about a possible way forward it’s at that point I can go to the Secretary of State and say ‘here’s a solid plan’.”