EXCLUSIVE: Chichester MP Speaks Out Over A27
2:54pm 17th February 2017
The MP for Chichester has exclusively told Spirit FM he won't give up on the A27.
Andrew Tyrie has spoken out saying he wants the best deal for the district, after that big consulation last year.
In a strongly worded letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Tyrie demanded the results be made public as 'transparency in the decision-making process is now essential.'
Read the full letter below.
He also asked Chris Grayling the reason for why a northern bypass option was dropped.
The letter read: 'While opposition to a route to the north of Chichester remains strong, I have received even stronger representations from those in Chichester and to the south about the process by which southern route options are being considered.'
A consultation into improvements for the Chichester bypass was carried out last summer.
Highways England (HE), which manages the A27, put forward five different options for improvements around Chichester. It invited residents and businesses to comment on each proposal and choose a favoured option.
While options for a northern route were excluded, southern routes were still on the table, which created a devide within the Chichester community.
Mr Tyrie told Spirit FM none of the current options are good enough: "We've got to get to the point where the overwhelming majority of my constituents who'll be affected by changes to the A27 know and have confidence in the fact that their lives are going to be improved, and not made worse by the changes, and we're not at that point.
"I'm hoping the Transport Secretary will respond by doing what I ask, which is publishing the full consultation material and supporting documents that he will of had last September and at the same time provide all the information that is available within the department on consideration of other options which were subsequently dropped.
"If we get that transparency, we're at least in a position where we might be able to move forward."
The preferred route for Chichester was originally meant to be announced last year, with work starting in 2018/19 and completion in 2020/2021. Now the start date has slipped to March 2020, and no completion date is given.
The results of the consultation still have not been published, despite continued pressure from West Sussex leaders and campaigners.
Last month, the leader of the county council, Louise Goldsmith, wrote to HE to urge it to publish the findings, and said to do otherwise would ‘raise suspicions of a process that lacks transparency and openness’.
She also said it could be that the consultation needs to be re-run and resulting in the whole timescale slipping.
Mr Tyrie said: "We need to look at that issue when we get a clearer answer on the points I've raised in the letter."
There have also been fears that the whole project could be dropped because of continued funding pressure.
My Tyrie added: "I would be very concerned if the money's lost but there must be a risk at a time of financial stringency when the treasury is coming under pressure because the budget deficit is still quite large."
Hear our full interview with Mr Tyrie below:
Andrew Tyrie Letter
I enclose correspondence from a large number of my constituents, who are – understandably – deeply concerned about the proposals to upgrade the A27. As you can see, there are strong views both for and against a new northern bypass, and other options.
While opposition to a route to the north of Chichester remains strong, I have received even stronger representations from those in Chichester and to the south about the process by which southern route options are being considered.
Transparency in the decision-making process is now essential. The first step must be for you to publish all submissions and conclusions from the consultation, which closed in September. The fact that they will only be published when Highways England presents its preferred option, which some will view as a fait accompli, has led many of my constituents to question the validity of the decision-making process.
Secondly, it is essential to demonstrate that the case for and against all the options has been thoroughly explained. This should cover the northern and southern bypass routes, which were set out in the preliminary consultation documents, but dropped prior to the formal consultation that began in March. As you know, I have been pressing for greater clarity and explanation for many months, latterly in correspondence. It is still much needed. In fact, it is needed more than ever.
Among other things, this should include clear statements of the assumptions that Highways England is using on the proportion of “through traffic” on the existing A27, and the relative environmental impacts of the various options, as well as a full analysis of the costs and benefits. It should take into account evidence supplied by both West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council.
I appreciate that we are now approaching a point at which many millions of pounds could be committed to schemes to ease the unacceptable traffic problems on the A27. However, there has been a considerable loss of confidence in the decision-making process, and confidence can only be restored if there is full transparency before any firm decisions are made.
Many constituents argue that this will require another round of consultation on all possible options, which could take some time. We certainly do need a comprehensive comparison of all options. You should be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on this. Were a further consultation to be undertaken, it would be crucial not to permit any consequential delay to serve as an excuse for Chichester to lose altogether funding from Highways England to ease congestion.
I have come to these conclusions having listened carefully to the huge number of representations that have been made to me in recent weeks, and only after careful thought.
I will place this letter in the public domain, and copy it to constituents who have written to me recently on this vital issue.
13th February 2017
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