COUNTY NEWS: MP says he was not invited to A27 meeting
MP Tim Loughton has said he was not invited to a meeting about A27 dual carriageway plans last week where residents criticised a lack of communication on the plans.
The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham has published an open letter to constituents to update them on the work of the A27 Working Group, following the meeting at Worthing College on Thursday that more than 750 people attended.
But Mr Loughton said the newly formed action group ‘Bypass not A27 Throughpass’, who organised the meeting to raise awareness of a possible bypass in Worthing, failed to invite him or West Worthing MP Sir Peter Bottomley.
He said: “I have been contacted by a number of constituents complaining that I did not attend and raising concerns about various claims which were made at the meeting and which could easily have been allayed if I, or representatives from Highways England, had been present at the meeting.
“The fact is that I was specifically not invited, neither was my colleague, Sir Peter Bottomley. Having now found out who organised the meeting I have been told that it was a ‘community meeting’ to which it would appear that it was not deemed appropriate to invite the elected representatives of the local community. Fortunately, a number of councillors were present but only because they had received a flyer through their doors.
“I gather the impression was given at the meeting that work on the A27 improvements has been going on in secret and that decisions had already been taken without public consultation and even that planning permission had already been considered.”
Mr Loughton was keen to stress that there have been no secret meetings and the process has been as ‘open and transparent as possible’.
He added: “It is important for residents to know that none of this is true.
“As much as I know about the progress of the work undertaken by Highways England has been put in the public domain and has been discussed with a number of local residents’ groups, who sit on the A27 Working Group, including those responsible for organising last week’s public meeting.
“This information has been available on my website under the ‘A27 Working Group’ heading and I have regularly updated constituents in my monthly constituency e-newsletters and in my weekly Herald column.
“In addition, I have held no fewer than six ‘Talk to Tim’ public meetings around the constituency since the beginning of the year, including in Findon Valley, at which constituents have been able to raise any issues of local or national interest. We also discussed the A27 at length at the AGM of the Findon Valley Residents’ Association, which I attended as usual together with no fewer than five councillors.”
Mr Loughton has said he will be arranging a public meeting after the summer holidays and will invite Highways England to take part.
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