ARUNDEL’S Conservative parliamentary candidate has issued a scathing response over Labour’s proposals to axe current plans for the long-awaited A27 bypass.
In December, the Government announced a £350million investment in A27 improvements including the Arundel bypass, with consultation over routes beginning this year.
“Once again Labour are cutting roads investment and showing that they couldn’t care less about Sussex or the south of England.”Nick Herbert, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Arundel and South Downs
However, in Labour’s Manifesto document, unveiled on Monday, the party revealed that, if elected, it would continue upgrades to the A27 ‘with the exception of the Arundel bypass’.
The news has outraged Arundel and South Downs parliamentary candidate, Nick Herbert, who has been one of those campaigning for the investment in the local road network.
He said: “The policy is a shambles. Labour claims they’ll save £200million from this to fund a one-year rail fair freeze, but the money isn’t there to raid yet because it’s allocated for when construction begins, which won’t be until the end of the road period.
“Frankly, no-one will trust Labour to deliver any of the A27 schemes. They’ve got form on this – they shelved the Arundel bypass once before in 2003.
“Once again Labour are cutting roads investment and showing that they couldn’t care less about Sussex or the south of England. It’s now clear that users of the congested A27, the local economy and the environment will continue to suffer if Labour are elected.”
Mr Herbert stressed that the Tories had already delivered a rail fair freeze over the past two years, one which the party aims to extend.
However, a spokeswoman for Labour retaliated, claiming that the Tories had ‘no idea’ how to pay for the scheme,
The spokeswoman said: “Labour is today saying that we intend to go ahead with the works on the A27 with the exception of the specific Arundel bypass – this is due to cut through a National Park and so raises a number of environmental issues that need to be resolved before we give this one section of road improvement the go ahead.
“Instead of an un-costed Tory plan they have no idea how they will pay for, Labour will deliver a fully funded rail fares freeze for one year.”
However, responding, Mr Herbert said Labour’s ‘excuse’ that the bypass goes through the South Downs National Park would ‘not wash’ because ‘the existing A27 goes through the national park anyway’.
Mr Herbert added: “This is a tiny section of replanted woodland right at the bottom of the park. It isn’t chalk downland. Meanwhile real damage to the park is being caused by pollution and rat running through downland villages as a result of congestion at Arundel.”
The plans for a bypass have not been fully supported by the community in Arundel, however.
Arundel South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment has been crying out for new measures to be looked into.
The action group wants to see more sustainable transport investment and wider consultation of Arundel’s residents over the A27 bypass proposals.
It is appealing for the Department for Transport to abandon offline bypass options A and B which could wreck treasured woodland in Binsted.