The secrecy over Chichester’s A27 plans continues despite mounting pressure on Highways bosses from a number of sources.
Highways England again refused yet another request by the Observer and Spirit FM for an interview this week.
A spokesman would only say: “Our position hasn’t changed, we’ll be able to arrange interviews when the consultation, and the facts, are published.”
That despite a Highways official appearing on BBC South Today only last month to talk about the project.
It comes after the Government agency came under further attack by two council leaders over a decision to extend the public consultations by just a week - to seven weeks, starting in March.
See all seven draft route options here
Last week’s behind-closed-doors meeting with ‘key stakeholders’ was ‘disappointing’, according to West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith and Chichester District Council leader Tony Dignum.
There was only a select few invited to last Monday’s private meeting, a decision which drew criticism from councillors who were told they couldn’t attend even though the outcome could directly affect the areas they represent.
Cllr Mike Hall, district councillor for Lavant and Westhampnett, where a new northern route could be built, was not allowed to attend. He said: “I think it was terrible that many, like me, were not able to go along and be told the latest on what is going on.”
Others have said the south of Chichester was poorly represented, while campaigners say just one public consultation for the whole Manhood Peninsula is ‘unacceptable’ when options to upgrade the existing stretch only, or build a new southern route, would greatly affect thousands.
Roland Higgins, a Runcton resident and member of Best4Chichester, said: “Residents of the Birdham, Itchenor, the Witterings, Bracklesham, Selsey, Earnley, Sidlesham, Hunston, Donnington and Bognor are all going to be hugely affected by the proposals.
“To give only two days of consultation at North Mundham Village Hall for the whole of the Manhood Peninsula is not fair. We are saying the many thousands who live south of the city must not be ignored.”
Under fire Highways bosses have been called ‘inept’ and ‘not that bright’ over their handling of the multi-million-pound project, the biggest in Chichester for decades, by a senior district councillor.
Last week Formula One legend Sir Stirling Moss signed the Chichester Deserves Better petition against the two options of seven to build a new northern bypass, saying it would be a ‘disaster’.
Almost 4,000 people have signed, and amongst those to publicly oppose a new Lavant route are the Goodwood Estate and Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie.
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