LETTER: It’s time for community cohesion

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Both Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council must take much of the blame for all the options for upgrading the A27 being dropped.

The cancellation of the upgrade was confirmed by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, in a letter to both leaders and our MP Andrew Tyrie on 28th February. I quote: “I have considered all representations and understand that this is a controversial scheme. The support and funding contribution by the local authorities are both vital to its successful delivery. After the withdrawal of support by the local councils for the short listed options and significant local campaigns, I am cancelling this scheme.”

I fully support the comments made to all district councillors by Mark Dunn and also those stated by the MP for Arundel and South Downs, Nick Herbert who stated: ‘those who campaigned against improvements to the A27 southern bypass have inflicted a massive own goal on West Sussex, by lobbying for an unfeasible northern bypass and undermining the process. They have effectively lost £200 million of infrastructure investment in the area.’

As the district councillor who represents the communities of Westhampnett and Lavant, I have continuously spoken against any northern option as this would have dissected these communities. A northern bypass would also have caused the closure of the international motor sports events at Goodwood resulting in many thousands of pounds loss to the local economy.

It would also have completely destroyed the southern boundary of the National Park with increased noise and light pollution.

The South Downs National Park also made the following statement: “There is a strong presumption against any significant road widening or the building of new roads through a [National Park] unless it can be shown there are compelling reasons for the new or enhanced capacity and with any benefits outweighing the costs significantly. Any investment in trunk roads should be directed to developing routes for long distance traffic which avoids the Parks.”

There is a considerable sum of money available from the Community Infrastructure Levy for junction improvements on the A27 from the developments in the Local Plan at Westhampnett and White House Farm.

Surely, with county council elections looming in May it’s now time for positive leadership and community cohesion from the prospective candidates to state their commitment to upgrading the existing A27 and to work closely with residents during the works.

Mike Hall

CDC Member for Lavant and Westhampnett Ward

Crouch Cross Lane, Boxgrove