It was very saddening to learn about the deaths of homeless men on the A27 near Whyke Road roundabout at Chichester.
What a bloody mess that A27 is around Chichester. Regular flooding, deteriorating road surface, huge delays and now deaths. It should not be necessary for people to die to shame people who work for government and local authorities, as well as the Nimbys who didn’t want to help the homeless, to improve this stretch of road – and yet, cost-cutting and now austerity measures, are causing just that.
When I helped set up St Joseph’s night refuge while working for the Christian Care Association (CCA), I remember how the local authorities and a vocal minority (or was that a majority?) of Chichester residents wanted such a hostel to not be in the city.
As a result, we looked for a facility as close to Chi as possible.
St Joseph’s was the best that could be found, I recall; we had been pushed beyond the city boundary to that quite rural road towards Hunston. It had no street lights for a few years until there was another death on the road.
It seems the Nimbys have helped cause the death of several innocent people now. How many more will there be? Forced to ‘play chicken’ trying to cross a most dangerous stretch of the A27, homeless people have ended up in a morgue while most of us have been able to celebrate Christmas and holiday time.
This, of course, is not the purpose of the refuge – it’s supposed to keep people warm, fed and alive, give them a better place to try to improve their lives from. The refuge has made good progress since being initiated from soup kitchens in the city run at Christmas-time years ago.
It is a damning indictment of officials and councillors at local authorities with their smart offices and comfortable homes in this area, and those associated with the decisions about the A27 such as the MP Andrew Tyrie and those enjoying the rich trappings of Whitehall, for people who are ‘of the road’ to be dying as a result of appallingly poor decision-making about the A27.
I hope some of those people do feel a significant sense of responsibility: they ought to. The wrong decisions about how to spend highways money have been made and people are dead as a result. Blood on someone’s or some people’s hands, by any kind of definition. I hope those MPs, councillors and officials of local authorities, as well as those NIMBY residents of the past, might make a new year’s resolution to re-apply themselves to the mess that is the A27 and sort it out properly, once and for all – not just fret about their own small backyard.