Tuesday, 25 August 2015

As we have mentioned previously it has been a devil of a job to find out what really has been discussed behind the closed doors of the high level stakeholder A27 meetings involving government departments, consultants, local government and MP’s
Therefore we are most grateful to the Sompting A27 Rural Group (SARG) for allowing us to share their notes (below) taken at the latest meeting.
Please note in the meeting HE/PB made it clear they were only looking at online design options.

NOTES on 14 July Stakeholder Meeting with Highways England/Parsons Brinckerhoff

The A27 Worthing-Lancing Stakeholder meeting considered a range of online upgrade options.  
There must have been about 24 guests including about 15 people from Highways England (HE) and their consultants WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB).  Also there were some local parish councils, both WSCC and Adur & Worthing council senior officers. Head of Sussex police Ian Jeffrey was also there. MPs Tim Loughton & Peter Bottomley had given their apologies via Cllr Tom Wye Chair of the Worthing & Adur A27 Working group.

It was a well-managed meeting designed to gather and record input on some very specific questions.  It also had to stick within the context that Highways England is a Strategic Roads agency so building strategic roads is what they do.  Other matters such as managing the local roads network and looking at investment decisions in relation to the non-car transport network, or environmental issues, were peripheral to HE’s remit so did not feature significantly in the meeting.  HE explained that they have their own HE job to do and can’t do Network Rail’s or the County Highways’ jobs beyond some liaison under the Duty to Cooperate.  It was explained “We (HE) are a roads delivery agency, we have made enquiries of other modes and they have not told us they are doing anything that would solve the problem of the A27.”
One senior HE person stated they will ‘look at sustainable transport measures at both Arundel and Worthing-Lancing’ but gave no indication of what that might mean. 

A talk with overheads was given about the process but no time to note the OHPs but little was new, it mainly summarised what was already published in the Feasibility Study report. The ‘next steps’ are that HE/PB will get on with design concepts to get the best solutions minimising impacts, and with environmental surveys.  Then in probably about 6 months time they may call the Stakeholder Group together for another meeting.
Another thing they are aiming to do at these meetings is to use local knowledge to ‘take the temperature’ on potential blockers which could bog down this or that design option in public controversy.

The main discussion time was spent in discussion groups.  Each table was asked to comment on the pros and cons of a number of slightly different types of road upgrade for where the Worthing-Lancing A27 goes through built up areas.  HE/PB made it clear they were just looking at this sort of scheme with a probable maximum 50mph standard to optimise traffic flow.  If this is the case then the local noise impact and the impacts on accessibility to and from side roads would not be as grave as with a 70mph solution in this section.  They also commented that tunnels at Worthing were not realistic options.