When we wrote a piece in December 2015 (see archive) for this Blog little did we know that in just a few months the scenario we outlined then was starting to take shape.
Clearly there was a sigh of relief from the communities that form an arc around the north of Chichester such as West Broyle, Lavant and Strettington, who were on or near the line of a northern bypass option for the A27, when they heard it was suddenly removed by Highways England (HE). Yes joy around the diner table for those in the north but horror in the Villages off the original southern bypass.
Sadly since then, this decision by HE has turned a once harmonious and happy Chichester into one very much divided with groups supporting either a new northern bypass or a serious expansion of the old southern bypass. Both sides are now engaged in a serious social media and letter writing battle.
As well as numerous Parish councils there are groups such as The Chichester Ship Canal Trust, and Environmental organisations. Then there are others who support the growth of Chichester through a transparent and ethical process. Another is supporting an improved A27 that benefits the city and the area as a whole. Another Supporting locals of Chichester who disapprove of the current Highways England 5 options for the A27 and so on.
All this came to a head on Thursday 15 September when the WSCC’s Environmental and Community Services Select Committee sat to debate the councils Response to the HE Consultation on plans for the A27 at Chichester. We won’t go through it all as you can watch proceedings here:
All we will say is councillors were none to pleased with what HE had come up with and rejected the lot.
So what is to be done? As we said in our December 2015 piece a divided campaign is a lost cause, no-one is going to be happy with the end result because unless groups work together HE will submit their preferred option to the Secretary of State for approval, and the chances are he will approve it.
HE is not really interested in your problem of how to get in and out of the City or on or of the A27. Their masters only want to improve the capacity of the road to improve inter regional connectivity. That means more and faster polluting traffic affecting everyone north and south as well as your neighbours east and west. Stand firm don’t allow them to inflict that upon you – or us. What is needed is an integrated transport system with all modes of moving people and goods about being employed. Trouble is, as HE have said many times ‘We are Highways England and that’s what we do, Highways’.