The issue of the A27 has dominated the first few months of my Presidency and I suspect it will continue to dominate to the time I reach the end of my three-year term. I make no apology for writing about it again. Locally, it’s the most important issue on the agenda.
For a change though, it’s great to report something positive and that is that the Secretary of State for transport, The Right Honourable Christopher Grayling, has written to Peter Bottomley and Tim Loughton to say that he has now asked Highways England to provide him with further information on the viable alternative options that were mooted in the feasibility study of 2014. These included the option of full dualling, although of course the budget put to the proposed scheme was not even sufficient to pay for any element of grade separation (bridging or tunnelling to allow traffic to cross the A27 without the need for a roundabout or junction).
You may remember that the Chamber responded, on behalf of the business community, to the Highways England consultation saying that in our view, the proposal being made was unacceptable so we are pleased that he has promised to reconsider. Of course, what the Secretary of State hasn’t said is that any more money will be committed, so this is where we need to make sure that our pressure on the government is unremitting to stump us the cash we deserve.
In terms of money, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the improvements that are required for the A27 are an investment in the economic well-being of the area. Not only will they improve the daily lives of thousands of motorists, they will unlock various developments that will give the area the ability to attract investments and protect jobs.
A case in point is that the major concern around the investment being proposed for New Monks Farm is not about the houses, community infrastructure and commercial development of an IKEA that’s being proposed, it’s about the effect that the extra traffic getting on and off the site on a daily basis will have on an already difficult stretch of road. Investing in the A27 isn’t an option, it’s essential. We all know the arguments.
We need to escape the gridlock and all the attendant ills that failure to deal with the A27 brings. I’m convinced that the money spent to do the scheme properly would be well spent and would be recouped in a variety of ways both economic and environmental. Over to you Mr Grayling…
12th January – Chamber Hub Free Networking
17th January – Chamber Quiz Night – Get your teams ready!
26th January – Networking Breakfast – Meet the panel
1st February – Better Business Show 10am–4pm, Assembly Hall, Worthing
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