Even though your editorial and reports of March 2 suggested there was widespread disappointment or worse about the Secretary of State’s decision to cancel the A27 improvements round Chichester, that is not what people have been telling me. They are quite pleased.
Although most would have preferred him to order a new consultation of all the options, they have welcomed his decision not to proceed with a very flawed southern route, which would have cut the Manhood Peninsula off from the rest of the country even more than it is now, would not have separated local and through traffic and would have encouraged rat runs along country lanes.
Forty seven per cent of those who took part in the consultation preferred No Option to any other option even though we were discouraged from choosing it and the next most popular choice (Option 2) received only 31 per cent of the votes. So most respondents thought no option was better than a bad option. This was confirmed at Andrew Tyrie MP’s public meeting in Selsey on March 3 when the only times the audience applauded was when two of the audience said no option was better than a bad option.
I cannot accept the claim in your editorial, “But a new road to the north has always been unacceptable. For reasons of the unique environment and cost it is a non-starter.” I keep reading similar comments but have never seen any evidence to support them. We need open minds and should not reject any possibility without full consideration.
Despite welcoming the Secretary of State’s decision, I recognise that the problem remains and will become worse unless something is done. It is more than a local problem; it is part of a regional and national problem. Solving it would improve the national road infrastructure and reduce congestion on the M25 and its feeder roads. The Government should consider this when deciding how much to spend.
I suggest that, after a brief period in which to study the results of last year’s consultation, national stakeholders, such as the Road Haulage Association, and local stakeholders should try to find a solution that would be widely acceptable. It should separate local and through traffic and not be too much of a blot on the landscape but, whatever route is taken, it will inevitably upset some people, who live very close by. That will have to be accepted.