There was virtually unanimous support among district councillors today to turn down funds for a previously rejected A27 scheme.
Faced with the choice of supporting Highways England’s preferred route, Option 2, to secure £250m of money, every councillors rejected it, bar three abstaining.
With the county council cabinet member for highways, Bob Lanzer, ‘minded to’ do the same, a new, community-led improvement will now bid for the next pot of Government funds, the Road Investment Strategy (RIS)2.
At today’s (Tuesday) special A27 meeting, council leader Tony Dignum said some may be tempted to ‘take the money’.
But he said with Highways having stated this morning it would not make changes to lower flyovers and roundabouts in Option 2, and with MP Gillian Keegan and the county council backing a new bid, he said: “We would incur widespread hostility for no benefit by striking out on our own.”
Many members echoed Cllr Carol Purnell’s view that they faced a ‘very difficult decision’ that could not please everyone.
She said: “Instinctively, I tended to look towards the better the bird in the hand, but having said that, what really weighs with me is, having given the community the chance to come together to design something better, this outweighs the rest.”
Cllr Jonathan Brown also backed RIS2, but said the public had been ‘very badly let down’. “It’s a scandal more ambitious schemes, including but not limited to the northern bypass, have not been properly explored so it’s no wonder that residents have not been impressed.”
Cllr Graeme Barratt said all but one parish council in the Manhood Peninsular, representing about 26,000 residents, ‘support the leader’s statement’.
Cllr Christopher Page said “Accepting RIS1 at this stage would completely cut across the community process,” adding he hoped the community could now ‘come up with a solution to our traffic problem that everyone can accept’.
Cllr Keith Martin said Highways’ previous options were based on outdated data of 20 per cent through traffic, when in fact it is 46 per cent, while cllr Dunn abstained from the vote, saying a much more environmentally friendly solution was needed.
CDC’s decision will now formally be given to Highways England along with the county council’s following a committee meeting tomorrow (Thursday).
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