LETTER: A27 secrecy like the '˜cold war'
I would like to comment on the decision to remove the Northern Bypass from the forthcoming proposals.
1. There are no winners or losers in this debate because the correct answer is material; the correct engineered solution for the problem. The challenge is to define the problem. I have heard a view that once the junctions are upgraded then extra pressure will be put onto the feeder roads which were never designed to take the existing traffic let alone additional. The solution must contain a programme to improve these roads or provide a new road to collect traffic from a wider network than the five roads feeding into the junctions. These costs must be considered part of the A27 package.
2. The project has not moved forward since 2013 when HE informed the public that it was a committed project to upgrade the existing road junctions and funding is available. Three years has been lost whilst exploring a solution outside the advice contained in the ‘HE A27 Corridor Feasibility Study Scope Document’. I am certain it will come to pass who extended this brief but the advice was ill conceived and has cost the public dearly.
3. HE has said that: “We recognize that, going forward, we need to work much closer with West Sussex County Council…” It takes two to work together and WSCC have given the public the impression that they have no knowledge of HE plans, which suggests two ignorant consulting consultants at the table! WSCC are the lead representatives for the electorate and their attitude represented by ‘zipped lips’ does not suggest consultation. The Internet has provided inquisitive people with un imaginable amount of insight to render ‘information denial’ obsolete. The attitude is more representative of the cold war with all is secrecy. There is a need for a cultural change and as culture in any organization comes from the top the question has to be asked if the current leaders are capable of creating such a change?
4. There is a need for certain questions to be registered before the consultation starts so HE has answers to hand. I have tested Jacobs traffic flow charts (CDC Local plan p17), Bar chart format, with friends and was met with blanked surprised. This is the key chart for traffic flow along the A27 and without some knowledge of the traffic all comments will be emotional and not reference based. It will be interesting to see if the change in HE approach is mirrored by WSCC.
5. The Road Investment Strategy: (RIS) Investment Plan 2015/16-2019/20 committed £15+bn to road improvements across 170+ projects. The programme is up and running and HE will spend the money on projects they can complete in this parliamentary lifetime. We hear that George Osborne is suggesting that budgets may have to be trimmed again. I hope the full value from the budget is available for the correct engineered solution and we do not fall foul to cutbacks or cancellation. If so, the gamble to re-look at a Northern Bypass will have proved to be a catastrophic failure.
6. The concept of ever increasing traffic leading to more roads is a non-sustainable argument. We do not know the real problem but it may be the growth in the age demographic and the ability to fund it. The idea of more roads leading to more business and prosperity will not work and other solutions have to found. The costs will lead the revenue curve. Inevitably we have a choice: either change our habits and learn to share precious resources or pay more for our old age! We hold the solution to the problem but if we are excluded from the iterative planning process the wrong solution will occur.