There is no more vexed subject than the A27 around Chichester.
Pitted, potholed, and snarled up by repetitive roundabouts, it is no longer fit for purpose.
That purpose is two-fold: to provide a fast highway for through traffic as an arterial road for the South East, more vital than ever as a facilitator of the economy in a post-Brexit era; and a local road for local residents enabling them to go about their daily business without clogging up the historic city centre.
Rightly, Highways England – which is responsible for this dual carriageway – sort improvements. But its consultation was so poor that only 5,000 people responded and of those more preferred none of the options than anything else on the table.
The leader of West Sussex County Council Louise Goldsmith, who has made partnership working the hallmark of her tenure of office, supported by county and district colleagues as well as Chichester’s new MP has championed a different approach. One that is shaped by the people for the people.
For more than a year, stakeholders, groups with a specific interest in the project, politicians, business leaders and residents have worked together to find a solution and from that work, independent consultants SYSTRA has come up with a shopping list of options.
Many have had to be rejected – like tunneling entirely under the current length of the A27 – on the grounds of cost or practicality. But the list that remains is substantive, imaginative, and when aggregated has the power to make a real difference.
Of course, in the end, the only view that matters is YOURS.
So today, in another unique partnership, the Chichester Observer Series of newspapers is giving you an opportunity to have your say on our centre pages. You should tick the list of suggestions.
This is the only opportunity to have your say on the ‘long list’ of options. You can return it to the Observer either directly or via a number of libraries and County Hall. The results will be shared with the county council and all decision makers as well as readers of this paper.
Although the Observer in print and online has a huge readership, we accept that not everyone purchases the newspaper. To ensure full access, the county council is making available copies of the paper at libraries from Friday afternoon of this week.
The Observer will also be carrying out surveys of the key options on our website. These surveys will also inform the debate although will not carry the same weight as completed forms from this paper.
We have supported this community approach to the A27 throughout and that is why we are proud to host today’s consultation with residents. Time is pressing. An approach to central government for funding must begin in May.
So please have your say. The Observer supports no particular view and its role in this is to be entirely objective and transparent.
All we want is to see a solution emerge that has as much local support as is possible.
Our councillors and the community action group have led the way. Now it is down to YOU.
Don’t forget if you want to have your say and have your views taken into account you must use the form in this week’s Observer.
To read more about this, click here