Voting to reject all the options in the Highways England A27 consultation risks putting an upgrade scheme back by 15 to 20 years, claim campaigners fighting for improvements to the Chichester section.
The Chichester Deserves Better (CDB) group, which is backing Option 2 as the best way forward, is dismissing claims by the other campaign organisation, Best 4 Chichester, and Birdham Parish Council that voting to reject all of the options advertised will lead to the reinstatement of a northern bypass solution.
“There are those who think they can force Highways England to put a northern bypass back on the table and they are going round urging people to vote for the ‘no option’ option,” said a CDB spokesperson.
“This is never going to happen and if too many people reject all the current options Highways England are more likely to drop the improvement scheme altogether.”
The spokesperson said CDB members had closely examined all the options and, while none were perfect, they felt Option 2 ‘provides the best chance Chichester will have to make the improvements needed for traffic over the next 20 years’.
They claim that if people don’t seize the opportunity now it could be 15 to 20 years before they get another chance.
“The people of West Sussex have already made it clear they don’t want to see the building of a northern bypass and those who are peddling the idea that a no option vote will bring that plan back risk driving the entire solution to the area’s traffic problems into a cul de sac,” the spokesperson added. “No option is not an option.”
CDB points out that the consultation is part of a formal legal process that has to be followed.
The money allocated for the A27 improvements can only be spent on one of the options put forward in the consultation.
If Highways England believes the people of West Sussex are rejecting all the options on the table then they may interpret that as a wish for nothing to be done, the group said.
CDB claims Highways England could not then just introduce a northern option instead.
It would either go ahead with one of the less beneficial existing options or drop the entire scheme and spend the money elsewhere.
“We strongly believe that Option 2 comes closest – and close enough – to delivering the solutions the Chichester area needs and to reject all options now would be a disastrous mistake for the future of the county,” said the spokesperson.
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