COMMENT: Time To Fill

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Newspapers have many functions.

To inform, to entertain, to report in fair and measured tones on matters of local public interest, all form part of our raison d’etre.

But core to the founding principles of titles like the Observer is to campaign in the best interests of our readers and the communities that we seek to serve.

This week, working with our sister publication The News in Portsmouth we launch a Time To Fill campaign.

Its demand to Highways England is simple - we want the potholes on the A27 between Chichester and Havant repaired as a matter of absolute urgency.

Anyone travelling this stretch of road will know that vehicles travel at speed and with the expectation that this arterial road will be safe.

It appears to be the view of the highways officials that the current pitting of the road is not safety critical.

From our own observations we would disagree. Traffic is regularly swerving at the last moment to avoid the surface damage.

It is hardly surprising that in recent weeks we have published a number of reports from motorists expressing both their alarm and reporting damage to their vehicles.

West Sussex County Council and its leader Louise Goldsmith have made clear they support our campaign.

They have written and lobbied Highways England themselves in no uncertain terms.

But they do not have final control over this stretch of road.

We have already stressed our endorsement for Mrs Goldsmith’s ambition for devolution for the counties of West and East Sussex and Surrey on a scale that would give them authority to act in cases like this.

Moving the budget to our local councils is the only sensible way forward.

Today, we urge immediate action to repair the A27.

In the longer term, we commend the county’s aspiration for greater devolved powers so that there is no future repeat.

A video of the damage can be viewed from Thursday of this week on the Chichester Observer website where we will continue to bring updates on the campaign.

We trust all readers will write to us so that we may convey your views to Highways England on the matter.

Together, we can make a difference - and save lives.

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