CAMPAIGNERS fighting to improve the A27 took their battle to Westminster last night (Tuesday, November 18) to meet with the Government’s transport minister.
Members of the A27 Action campaign, who include West Sussex County Council’s leader Louise Goldsmith, Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton and Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley, all made the case for improvements to the A27 when they met with Patrick McCloughlin yesterday evening.
The meeting comes just weeks before an official announcement is expected from Government about what roads will receive funding for improvements.
However, this afternoon one of the groups opposed to the A27 scheme has criticised campaigners for ‘misleading’ local businesses and residents.
In statement, Kay Wagland, chairman of Arundel SCATE, said: “A27 Action is misleading local business and residents, telling them that more roads will bring long-term benefit despite the evidence to the contrary.
“It is trying to mislead the Department for Transport by saying that its proposals are supported by residents, when it is clear that there is considerable local concern over the nature of its scheme and people have not been informed or consulted on it in over 20 years.”
Last night’s meeting came in the wake of comments by Prime Minister David Cameron, who earlier this month gave his largest hint to date that the A27 would be part of a £15billion package of road improvements.
The campaign to improve the often-clogged trunk road has been spearheaded by West Sussex County Council and has garnered support from businesses, local MPs and other councils.
Speaking of last night’s talks, Mrs Goldsmith said: “It was a good meeting with the minister. We’re coming ever closer to the time when the Government will make its decision and we will continue to make our case for the A27 to be on that list right up until that announcement. “Our A27 Action Campaign has brought together so many people, MPs, local county, district, town and parish councillors as well as businesses, small and large, and residents.
“It has been terrific to have such support from so many sectors of our community.”
Among the changes proposed include the dualling of the whole A27 across West Sussex, improvements to six roundabouts in Chichester, a bypass of Arundel and improvements to the Worthing-Lancing corridor.
However, Mrs Wagland said that there had been increasing evidence of local opposition to the A27 Action plans.
She also pointed to studies conducted by the Department for Transport, which she said highlighted that ‘integrated public transport and improved access provides much better value for money than large-scale road building’.
“So, it is hoped that the Government will not succumb to what Steven Norris – a previous secretary of state – described as ‘grand project-itis’, that it will ensure information provision and open public debate and not opt for a massively damaging and money-wasting scheme,” she added.