Request to withdraw decision on A29 realignment scheme ‘ignored’

Cabinet member Roger Elkins said withdrawing his decison risked delaying or even putting the project in jeopardy
Cabinet member Roger Elkins said withdrawing his decison risked delaying or even putting the project in jeopardy

A request to hold off any decisions on the A29 realignment scheme until a public consultation has finished has been ‘ignored’, according to residents.

West Sussex County Council is looking to build a new 4.3km stretch of road to the east of Eastergate, Westergate and Woodgate.

A decision to approve the scheme was made by Roger Elkins, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, but was called in for further discussion by members of the Labour group.

The council’s environment, communities and fire select committee requested that the decision be withdrawn until after the current public consultation finishes.

However Mr Elkins has now confirmed his decision arguing that withdrawing the decision ‘would delay the delivery programme and could jeopardise the delivery of the scheme’.

He said that comments received during the consultation would be taken into account before the design of the scheme is finalised.

His letter said: “This is a major infrastructure project with multiple funding partners and dependencies, so delaying the delivery programme would incur potential legal, financial and reputational risks.”

One resident suggested Mr Elkins had ‘ignored’ the committee’s recommendations.

Writing on Facebook, Labour county councillor Michael Jones said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the cabinet member’s response.

He added: “While his letter said officers will take into account residents’ views, I can’t see how well that will happen if contracts etc are being entered into with several weeks left to go before the consultation is even finished.

“This seems like yet another example, in my opinion, of the Tory leadership of this council riding roughshod over residents, and while I encourage those residents to still participate in the consultation, I don’t want to associate myself with what this council is doing, or what it will mean for the area.

“All for the sake of, at the most optimistic predictions, a minute off journey times on that road, and paid for by massive development. I wish the news was better than this, and the powers-that-be more responsive to the democratic will of its councillors.”

The new road is budgeted to cost £55.5m and would start near the Lidsey Caravan Park, cross the railway line, intersect the B2233 Barnham Road, before joining the A29 south of Fontwell.

The current timescales would see work on the northern section start in winter 2020 and be completed by winter 2021, while the southern half would start in spring 2023 and finish in autumn 2025.

The consultation runs until Friday April 26.

To view the proposals or to comment visit the county council’s website.