After 12 months of meetings, WSCC and their consultants on March 15 presented their ‘long list’ of suggestions to the BABA27 consultation group.
This list requires comment by the Chichester community on 340 suggestions within two weeks.
It has been confirmed by WSCC and their consultants that none of the suggestions have been costed.
Government investment in the A27 at Chichester was withdrawn in March, 2017, from the budget known as Road Investment Strategy 1 (RIS1).
In September, 2017, Highways England confirmed that the list of road projects for the next period, RIS2, is virtually full (it will include over-run projects from RIS1).
If we are to stand a chance of inclusion we will be competing for funding nationally with other schemes; there is no certainty that Chichester will be successful.
The projects to be included in RIS2 are due for announcement in early 2019 but as Highways England have exceeded their expenditure on RIS1 projects by £0.5bn with projects left to complete in RIS2 costed at £8.3bn (NAO Report – Progress of Road Investment Strategy March 2017) it is likely that there will be considerable pressure on available finance.
In December, 2017, the BABA27 were advised by our MP that if we were successful in being included in RIS2 we should not expect an increased budget from Central Government; that it was unlikely to exceed the upper end of the previous RIS1 budget of £100million to £250million.
With costs of road improvements rising higher each year this adds a further constraint on what is affordable and therefore possible to achieve.
The key question is why, after such a long process of consultation with BABA27, WSCC have briefed their Highway Consultants to produce uncosted suggestions – funding being the major constraint on our success?
Surely this risks raising expectations in our community for solutions that may be undeliverable.
Christopher Mead-Briggs*, Patrick Green*, Itchenor, Elaine Drummond, Fishbourne, Jeremy Dry, West Ashling, Martin Ebert, Beth Huxley, James Pickford*, Nick Reynolds*, Dr Michael Tucker, Lavant
(* denotes a member of BABA27 consultation group)