The A27 consultation must be rerun.
Although there may be sound arguments on both sides for a northern or southern bypass, there is no substantial argument against consulting the public on all the options. To recap, Highways England withdrew two of the original seven options, without adequate explanation, just before last year’s consultation, so the public was denied a real and informed choice.
The present debate is not north v. south but transparency and openness v. opaqueness and secrecy. Highways England, despite a Freedom of Information request, has not even published the result of last year’s consultation so we the public do not know how many voted for ‘No option’; ie voted against every one of the limited options offered.
Most letters in these columns support a new consultation and most of those against it are NIMBY letters whose authors are putting their own self-interest above the public interest.
As I’m a Selsey resident, none of the routes would be in my backyard. It does not matter directly to me whether the route passes a disused gravel quarry and sewage works to the north or demolishes 20 homes and businesses to the south.
I just want a route that will work, but I can’t assess which would be best unless I’m given all the facts and I can’t offer an informed opinion to Highways England unless they re-open the consultation and include all the options this time.
Most of the argument against a rerun centres on fears of delay and losing funding. These fears are groundless. Delay would be minimal as all the options already exist and they merely have to be put to the public. The Secretary of State said at the Chichester Conservative’s annual dinner that we would not go to the back of the queue or lose funding if there was another consultation.
Let’s have another consultation but of all the options this time.