I have followed with interest the recent expansion of your letters pages generated by responses to the request, by the various manifestations of local government, that the debate over the A27 re-development be re-opened.
It is clear that this is an issue which has not gone away and that Chichester is still very much a city ‘by the road divided’.
The demands that the outcome of the original consultation be ‘honoured’ and that Option 2, if indeed that was the ‘option’, to use the word in its loosest sense, which ended up being favoured by the as yet undeclared result, now be imposed on Chichester have tended to come, albeit not exclusively, from those to the north of the city’s heart or from self-appointed ginger groups, such as ‘Chichester Deserves Better’.
Cheers at the prospect of a re-opening of affairs and praise for the courage of our local government officials who recognise an unfair situation, or a potentially losing wicket, when they see one have tended to come from those to the south who face bearing the brunt of the sustained negative impact of the proposed building works or from those who have a strong sense of the need to preserve the city’s historical and architectural assets.
However, what the existence of the ongoing civil war shows is that a
very substantial number of people believe that the consultation process they were offered was deeply flawed. Many of your other correspondents have pointed out that there are so many advantages to a northern option. It was perhaps inevitable that its seemingly summary removal before the consultation even started was bound to cause resentment and the suspicion of murky dealings.
In the end there will be winners and losers in this development but the only way some sense of peace, justice and acceptance may be achieved is by running the consultation again and this time with all the options available, including the northern ones.
This will remove the sense which pervaded the previous exercise, namely that there was more than a little of the Henry Ford about it – ‘you can have any colour you want as long as it is black’ – and make it feel like a true consultation rather than a botched PR exercise.
It might also reduce the chances, in the long run, of road builders being confronted by protestors, albeit polite ones with neatly produced, grammatically correct banners. Who knows, we could have a referendum about the issue. After all, they are very fashionable at the moment.